Getting Toddlers To Listen
Photo by Fernanda Greppe on Unsplash
"I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house in!!!"
This did intimidate the Three Little Pigs. But… does it work for you?
Do you feel that day in and day out you are howling like a wolf, but still...you are not doing enough to make your little one listen!
You are just left huffing and puffing for air while he jumps around, making silly faces to your talks and laughing his heart out.
So, any way out?
Can our little ones be trained to obey instructions without all that drama that goes in?
It is POSSIBLE!
As I write this, innumerable memories of my son defying me overwhelm me. My inner critic overpowers me and probes mercilessly ‘Then why did you have sleepless nights and restless days just figuring out why your son does opposite of everything you ask him always?’
Yes, I accept. I made certain parenting mistakes which gave me results contrary to what I wanted.
But it is not rocket science. Certain things need to be done in set ways and…. Voila! We do succeed.
Get Close, Look into their eyes and Whisper:
Hush in a soft, low voice. Initially, it may drown in their yelling. Try keeping your voice extra soft. Your kid would have to really put his energies in listening to what is being said and chances are he would comply to it.
Try animated voice /singing occasionally:
Sometimes, just to get their attention, we need to vary our voice or tone. Speaking like hulk or suddenly singing “When you are happy and you know it”, just gets them out of their reverie and they glue their attention to your words more.
Say What they should do (FULL STOP):
Do not pour in too many details at one go. Use simple words and short sentences directing them what they should do “Your feet on the ground” instead of “Don’t jump on the sofa”.
One Word Magic:
It is the one word which we want our child to focus on and get the thing done. Instead of jabbering the entire instruction again and again like an endless record, switch to some magic! Get your child's attention with that one word.
I have given my son the responsibility of washing his hands before meals. But still, every mealtime I had to literally drag him to the basin. While washing I used to keep reiterating about germs, tummy ache, medicine, blah-blah-blah. My words fell on deaf ears because I could never see any corrective behaviour.
Now, I simply say "Arush, hands!". If he tries to ignore me, I keep repeating it “Hands! Please”. You see, it's easier for me to just say that word again and again and he implicitly understands what I want him to do. It has given me sure shot results.
Make them C-H-O-O-S-E:
Instead of always taking orders, kids love to be in the driving seat. For making him finish his veggies in the plate, I give him the option "Arush, you can either eat your veggies with chappati or finish them up separately before rice. Once I serve you rice, I will have to mix them in." My kid generally likes to eat his dal-rice alone. Any kind of veggie in it is a kind of adulteration for him. So, sometimes he just munches his veggies as it is just before I dole out his rice, other times he drags himself to roti-veggie. Either ways, his veggies are done voluntarily.
Set deadlines in advance:
Always keep your deadlines and expectations very clear beforehand for your kid. They should know well what you expect them to do at a point of time. Important thing is prior knowledge.
I have kept a strict rule of no screen time during meals. Still, each time food got laid and I would switch off the television, he would start stomping his feet. From now on, as soon as I begin getting food to the table, I announce that it's just 5min into eating. As soon as I get the water jug to the table, the television should be off. This mentally conditions him to be ready to turn off the television.
Acknowledging their feelings:
Kids are not capable of expressing how they feel. They feel overwhelmed and confused. As parents, we need to acknowledge and name their feelings so that they know exactly what it is that they are going through. So, the next time my son yells and bangs the doors when any of his demands is not met, I help him out saying "Arush, are you angry that mummy didn't order your favourite cream biscuits". This statement at least gives me credibility that I understand him and he is not alone in it. Slowly, as I get him into my talks, he feels more urged to listen to me.
Walk your Talk:
Finally, kids ape us the most. Whether it is for the good or bad, we teach our kids how to respond to people or situations. If we want them to be more respectful to us, we must be equally cordial to others around us and monitor our behaviour as well.
Do share your experiences as you ride through the journey of getting your munchkins listen to you. All the best!!
Neha Gupta is a software engineer who is now a stay at home mom. She feels motherhood is a second chance to relive our childhood. She loves nature, books and writing.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this post are the personal views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of The Mom Store.