Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Getting Your Toddler to Listen

We've been talking a lot about listening at our house lately. And it turns out, so have some other parents of toddlers. More specifically, all of them. So I've decided to share with you the secret of how to make your toddler listen to you.

1. Present your need.

"Hey, please come over here and get your shoes on."

2. Confirm understanding.

"Hey. Norah. Shoes on. Let's go."

3. Convey the reasoning behind the request.

"You need your shoes on before we go to the park. You don't want to step on something sharp or gooey or anything, do you?"

4. Focus on the action you wish completed.

"No, Honey, we're not playing piano with our butt right now. We're getting our shoes on."

5. Present options.

"Would you like your pink shoes or your shiny shoes that make you extra fast?"

6. Illuminate alternatives.

"Fine. We can either get our shoes on and go to the park, or we can clean up your toys. Your choice."

7. Discuss and affirm feelings.

"I thought you wanted to go to the park. Why do you make Mommy crazy?"

8. Consider a show of vulnerability.

"Look, Baby, you wanted to go to the park. Mommy called our friends. Now they're waiting for us. We need to go now."

9. Put on an air of authority-- firm, but kind.

"We. Are. Getting. Our. Shoes. On. Right. Now."

10. Explain what it means to listen and comply.

"Honey Buns, you know when you demand a cup of milk? And I go get it? That means I'm listening. And I do it because I love you. So when I ask you to do something, it would be nice if you did it, because we love each other."

11. Use force only when necessary.

"Stop squirming!"

12. Console and affirm feelings once again.

"Oh, Honey. You're okay. We're going to the park! There's no need to cry. Mommy loves you."

13. Present an opportunity for positive behavior and reward such behavior.

"Baby, if we get out the door, Mommy will give you an M&M. If we make it to the car, a unicorn."

14. Know when to engage and when to disengage.

"Fine. I'm putting on a Blue's Clues and you're eating broccoli for dinner and nothing else."

15. Remain in control, confident, and cool-headed.

N: "I want to go to the park now! Put your shoes back on!"

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