“Did you hear me? Didn’t I just ask you to turn off the television and start cleaning your room? This is the third time… Are you listening?”
Sounds familiar? Many parents encounter the above scenario where they keep repeating the same instructions to their toddlers, yet they find no results of obedience or adherence. However, parents should not be discouraged. New studies have shown that this is natural and toddlers do listen.
According to Yuko Munakata, a psychology professor at University of Colorado, toddlers do not plan for the future and they do not live in the present. Professor Munakata advised parents to avoid repeating the same things as this strategy does not work well with young children. Parents should direct and prepare them for situations which they may face.
Here are some possible ways you may try to adopt when communicating with your toddlers:
- Maintain eye contact to establish connection. In this manner, you will be able to get your toddler’s attention and help him understand what you are saying. Maintain a warm and approachable eye contact as you speak.
- Give prior notice. Say you are leaving in five minutes so he has time to prepare and anticipate. Be realistic and specific in your notice. For example, when you tell your child to keep his toys, specify which toys should be put away first, such as, “Start putting the yellow blocks into their proper places.”
- Address your child. Use the child’s name when you are giving directions. For instance, “Nash, please turn off the television…”
- Keep your instructions brief, simple and straight to the point.
- Ask your child to repeat what you said. This is to ensure that he listened and understood your instructions.
- Let your child realize or experience the consequence when he has fulfilled what was asked of him. This is effective as it helps children to understand that their actions have consequences.
- Be polite. The use of “please” is always encouraging. Speak to your children the way you want them to speak to you.
- Messages that start with “you” are judgmental and threatening. They will only result to defense and defiance. Instead of saying “You must…. Or you’d better do this…”. Try saying “I need you to… or I will be please when you…”
- Use a calm and relaxed tone. Avoid yelling as it instills fear. It is better if your child listens out of understanding rather than fear.
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