Teaching Toddlers to Listen

listenAround the age of two, most children begin to develop a self-image and explore their independence, which most often translates into non-compliance. This is their way of saying, “I’m separate from you. I’m my own person”.


In other words, they start understanding that their wishes do not always match their parents’, and that they can have their own likes and dislikes.


Treehouse Nursery offers a few pieces of advice on how to handle this difficult stage.


Get on their level


Every parent realises at some point that yelling orders from a great height (or, worse, from the other room) usually leads to nothing. Get close and pick your child up or squat down, so that you can get at their eye level. Eye contact is essential in getting a toddler’s attention and making him listen to you.


Keep directions appropriate for their age level


2-year olds are just learning to respond to your questions, follow one or two-step directions, and understand negative terms. So, make sure you keep your directions short and simple, take everything one step at a time, and allow your child a few seconds to get to process what you’re asking.


Furthermore, instead of telling your toddler what not to do, formulate your directions in positive terms. For example, instead of saying “Don’t run!”, tell him “Walk slower”.


Don’t make it sound like an order


As already mentioned, 2-3 years old is the age when children start showing independence for the first time. When you want your toddler to do something, use phrases like “I need you to” or “I want you to” instead of “You have to”/”You need to”.


This way, you will avoid potential power struggles, when your little bundle of joy can plain and simply respond with a “No, I don’t/won’t!”


Give them choices


Most times, toddlers don’t listen because they want to be in control. To make them feel you’re not the one holding all the power, it can be a great idea to state your requests as choices. For example, instead of telling your child “You have to get dressed”, you could say “What would you like to wear, the blue shirt or the green one?”


Whatever options you offer, make sure you are okay with all of them. Also, don’t offer too many choices – two should be enough. By giving your toddler limited choices, he will feel in control, while you can be sure you will be happy with the result.


Make listening fun


Another great way to teach your toddler to listen is to use games. For example, at this age, puppets have something magic to them that grabs a kid’s attention instantly. You can even use a sock with drawn-on eyes and mouth, and it will still work.


Use a goofy voice and have the “magic” puppet ask your child to follow directions. Start with something fun and simple, like clapping hands or spinning around, and then proceed to what you actually want the kid to do – like picking his toys up off the floor.


While not every trick is guaranteed to work every time, if you keep these tips from Treehouse Nursery in mind and get creative, you will surely be successful – and your independent little toddler, a lot easier to handle.