What to Do When Your Toddler Doesn't Listen
It can be difficult to know what to do when faced with a stubborn toddler. The first thing to remember is that every single parent experiences this stage - you’re not alone.
The two most important things are that we don’t discipline as a form of punishment and that we stay consistent with our actions and decisions. That way, your toddler will learn boundaries and will more easily learn what is ok and what’s less acceptable.
In this post, we’re going to look at 4 things to do (or not do) when your toddler doesn’t listen.
1. Don’t shout
Often, the thing that feels most natural to do is the thing that we absolutely shouldn’t be doing. When our toddlers don’t listen, it feels normal to shout at them in the hope that they will start paying attention.
Shouting only lets our children know that we’re becoming unstable about the situation and may also cause them to become scared. We want our children to listen to us because they know it’s the right thing to do, not because they’re afraid.
Shouting can quickly lead to a game of ‘who can be the most stubborn’ - and it’s a game that you will always lose.
2. Get up close and personal
If your child isn’t listening to you, get down to their level, use their name, and make eye contact. This is a quick way to show them that you’re being serious. You might also like to gently hold their hands or stroke their back as you speak to them. Let them know that you’re here to keep them safe and that you’re on their side!
Even though this may not work the first couple of times, stick with it until it becomes your natural response and something that your child can expect.
3. Give them a choice
If your toddler won’t put their shoes on, give them a choice. Children need to be able to make decisions for themselves to feel like they have some control.
“It’s up to you. We can put your shoes on and go to the park, or we can leave your shoes off and stay in the house”.
Follow this by letting them know that the choice is theirs whenever they’re ready to make it.
“Those are your choices. Your shoes are there when you’re ready to put them on”.
Then walk away from the situation - you could put on a load of laundry or start the washing up. Give your toddler the time to make the decision and praise them when they’ve decided to put their shoes on and are ready to go.
4. Keep instructions short
When asking our toddlers to do something, it’s important that we keep instructions short so as not to overwhelm them and lead to them ignoring us. There’s no need to add fluff, threats, or alternatives to your instructions.
Simply tell them what you would like them to do and wait for them to do it. Give them a little time before offering them a choice and before getting up close, and personal with them.
What are the daily battles in your house? And do you think that you could benefit from any of the solutions we’ve talked about today?