Getting your toddler to listen, part one

We all want our kids to listen to us and to our Au Pair or other caregiver, but how is it done? Do you have multiple children? Having trouble getting just one child to listen to you? There is help out there for you, and lots of it. I will share tips from the experts that really make sense and are totally doable.

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Toddlers are just like the rest of us — they don’t always listen. In fact, at their age they need you to teach them how to pay attention. “But what often happens,” says Roni Leiderman, associate dean of the Family Center at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, “is that parents say something 10 times, then they start counting down to punishment. What this does is actually condition the child not to listen until the tenth time.”

By not listening, your child is getting your attention (though constant nagging isn’t the best form of it). But being a good listener helps your child learn more effectively, heed danger signals, get along better with you and her teachers and other adults she’ll be expected to respect, and make better friends. There are many simple strategies that, when consistently followed, will teach toddlers the skills they need to become good listeners. And, as Leiderman points out, “It’s never too early to begin teaching your child. A toddler may not listen as well as a 5-year-old, but she still has lots of these skills.”

Tip #1:   Get on her level.
As every parent realizes sooner or later, bellowing from a great height (much less from the other room) rarely has the desired effect. Squat down or pick your child up, so you can look her in the eye and grab her attention. She’ll listen much more closely if you sit down next to her at the breakfast table when reminding her to eat up her cornflakes, or perch on her bed at night when telling her you’re about to turn out the light.



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