How to Talk to Toddlers So They Listen?

How to Talk to Toddlers So They Listen?

Poor listening skills and a lack of obedience are among the most frequently noted concerns expressed by parents of toddlers and young children. The truth is that children love to experience freedom and fun, and anything that feels outside of that is often met with resistance or defiance. Parents of young children and toddlers often have to make certain requests repeatedly before the child responds or use threats or harsh tones of voice to get the child to do what they have asked of them. 

While it is relatively normal for young children to appear to ignore or refuse to follow simple directions or instructions, some children struggle with this due to an underlying condition. Conditions that affect cognition or development, such as developmental delays, ADHD, Autism Spectrum disorder, learning disabilities, and executive functioning deficits, can impact a child’s ability to understand and follow directions.

If your child is consistently ignoring or refusing to follow certain directions or simply appears not to listen to you or other adults, it might be worthwhile having them assessed for an underlying condition that could be contributing to these behaviors. Speech therapists can help to improve comprehension and communication skills in toddlers and young children, which can benefit their development and improve their ability to interact with others and follow simple directions. If you think your child might benefit from working with a speech therapist, getting started is simple. Connect with us by scheduling your free introductory call today!  

How Do I Get My Toddler to Listen Without Yelling?

It’s time to leave the house in the morning, and you tell your toddler, “Okay, time to put your shoes on!” While this may seem like a straightforward and reasonable request to a toddler or young child, these requests aren’t as simple. There are a few easy things parents can do to teach their children to listen and respond to them. These changes are quite simple but can have a big impact on these interactions and the child's responsiveness without the need for yelling. 

Communicating with young children and toddlers can often feel like speaking a different language, and the best way to talk to them isn’t always intuitive for parents. Experts suggest employing the following techniques to improve communication between parents and their young children and eliminate the need for threats or yelling. 

Provide Brief and Clear Instructions - The simpler and clearer the instructions or requests are, the more likely it is that a child will understand and comply. 

Break More Complex Instructions into Smaller Steps - If you are asking your child to complete a task with multiple steps, for example, “Please take off your shoes, put them away, and go wash your hands” this shouldn’t be communicated all at once. Instead, ask them to do one task, and only ask for them to complete the next one once they have finished the previous one.  

Validate and Identify Their Feelings - Young children often feel unseen or dismissed, especially when struggling with their emotions. Sometimes, simply naming their emotion and validating their experience can make them more engaged and responsive. Try saying, “I know it’s frustrating when playtime ends. You don’t want to clean up now, you want to keep playing. Let’s tidy up together!” Generally speaking, young children don’t have much control over their environment, so as they develop and increase their independence, they want to exercise these new skills. While giving in to every whim is not productive or responsible parenting, validating their emotions and experience can go a long way. 

Give Them Options - Another way to help your child feel validated and independent is to offer them choices instead of making demands. Make sure the options are simple and reasonable, such as “Do you want the red or blue plate today?” or “Do you want to brush your teeth before or after we read a book?” 

Be Consistent - Consistency and repetition help children learn and solidify new skills. So, while it may seem irritating to read the same book every night or watch a movie 200 times with your child, this repetition helps them retain information and make sense of the world around them. This also applies to communication. Use consistent language when interacting with your child or setting rules or boundaries. This means that they can predict your reactions and language, making them more open to listening and following directions. 

Positive Feedback - Instead of reacting to the behaviors you don’t want, be very sure to praise and encourage your child anytime they display the behavior you desire. When expectations and boundaries are clear, children can more easily behave in a desired way and will be eager to seek out more positive reinforcement. 

If you try the above tactics and your child is still not listening, it may be time for an assessment by a qualified speech therapist, as there may be something else going on. Getting started with speech therapy is as simple as scheduling your free introductory call today! 

What Causes Toddlers to Not Listen?

While it may seem simple to us adults, listening, processing, following directions, and managing large emotions involve the cooperation of many fundamental skills. Abilities such as focus, attention, language comprehension, emotional regulation, memory, and more all contribute to these larger skills. If a child struggles with listening, they may be weak in one or more of these areas. 

While it is normal for young children to struggle with listening as they are not developmentally able to master all of the required skills, some children may face particular challenges due to an unidentified underlying condition, such as hearing impairment, difficulty with executive function, or developmental disability. 

Speech therapy can help to strengthen listening and comprehension skills in young children, even for those who are developing normally. By working closely with a speech and language pathologist, your child can learn to communicate effectively, express themselves, engage with others, listen to instructions, and follow directions. 

If you’re concerned about your child’s development you should consider an evaluation by an experienced speech and language pathologist. Getting your child the support and guidance they need through speech therapy begins by scheduling your free introductory call today!