Sunday, September 9, 2012

20 Toddler tips in 20 days 13. Listening Toddlers

Toddler Survival Tip #13

13. Toddler Listening

Everyone complains at one point or another that their toddler isn't listening. I heard someone ask once, "But are you listening to your toddler?" 
I thought yeah, I can hear them whine, complain, say no, it's annoying, I'm trying to tune them out. 
Then I thought, this is probably what they hear from us. lol

I since read a bit about listening to your children and showing them how to listen so that when we need them to listen to us, they know how. I read some fun tips to try and get your toddler to join your side of the team and do what you need them to do without power struggles. Then we took a small list and posted it to the fridge. That way when my hubby or I get frustrated and we just want to make our children do what we say or we feel like yelling or picking them up and throwing the into their bedroom, we have something to quickly look at and read over. Sometimes great ideas don't just COME to us, we need to have a reference guide.

This is an example of our family guide.
1. Are you listening to them? Often when I slow down enough to listen to what my son is telling me, I notice that he is not getting his shoes on, not out of spite, but there is something he was needing before. One time, I was shoving his tiny feet into shoes that were on backwards and I wasn't even listening to him telling me this, I only heard whineing... I slowed down and stopped and asked what do you need before we put your shoes on? He said, Mama, they are on the wrong feet! I felt so dumb. I said your right baby, good job telling mama, even mama makes mistakes! They may have to pee first, they may have forgotten a special doll they want to take, or they may be thirsty and hungry or worried about where we are going. Make sure you are talking to your children and listening to them when they do. Ask questions more and talk less works well.

2. Robot Voice? This is our reminder that we can have them do things but don't forget everything in their world is fun and a game, if you have time, keep it light and entertaining. Cleaning up is more fun if you can act like a robot and each pick toys up in a fun voice and staggard movements. My boy likes when I pretend to push buttons on him and program him to put a toy in his box. Takes longer, but it's a lot more fun.

3. Try a race. If you have time and it may help, make the chore a race. We have our boys race with us a lot. If we are in a hurry, make it a fun race. Who can run into the house and take their shoes off first. Ready go!

4. Try a game. Sometimes we use silly games to get our toddler to listen. Repeat after me is a fun game. Like Simon Says, it's Mama Says, "5 more minutes until we go. Repeat after me... mama says, BeeBa BooBa... mama says, "take my hand, mama says, Chugga Cugga." Make it silly and fun and get them to repeat what you want, ensure you know they heard you in the first place before getting upset. I also use songs and have them finish the song, so I knew they heard me... I start with, "In 5 more minutes, it will be time to goooo, in 5 more minutes it will be..." Then I wait for him and he fishes with ..."time to goooo." Simple but effective.

5. Ask questions. I mentioned above asking questions ensure they hear you and you hear them. I ask things like, "Show me how you can 'set the table, put your undies on, zip your jacket up.'" or "How do you... eat your veggies like a dinosaur? climb into your car seat?" I ask him "are you independent? Can you do that yourself?" I also encourage this by telling him how independent his is when he does do the responsible thing like taking shoes off at the door etc.

6. Is it REALLY important? Sometimes we are so busy in our power struggle to 'win' the argument or try to get them to do what we want, we need to ask how important is it? Can it wait? Can we just bring the shoes along, and have him put them on when we get there. It's more motivating if they can see the park to put shoes on than it may be to leave the warm living room to go in the first place. If you don't really need them to listen to you, don't worry about it, try again later.

7. Do YOU need a time out. Sometimes my hubby and I get caught up in own out crappy moment and the toddler was doing fine before we came along. Check your emotional set point. H.A.L.T. !!   Are YOU hungry, angry, lonely, tired? Do you have negative thoughts on your mind. Go have a tea, book, walk, go calm down yourself before dealing with your toddler. Take a time out and tell your little one you need a time out cause your feeling (frustrated, angry, sad, overwhelmed) what have you... this way they learn what to do when they feel that way.

8. Hug? Do they need a hug, do you? Maybe they need a bit of help. Usually they can always put their shoes on, but today has been a hard day and today they need to be a bit more suckie, so slow it down, give some hugs, take some more time. Show a bit of love and compassion. Everyone has bad days. They are allowed to.

9. Change the channel. This is my favourite. When a child is obsessing about something really upsetting. You want to feel better, and do what you need them to do or answer you about something. Think about helping them change the channel. It's almost impossible to watch a scary show, shut it off and not think about it. It usually plays over and over in your head. But if you turned the scary show to a different channel, the comedy channel or a reality tv show that made you laugh or think about something else. You begin to change your emotional state and access a positive thinking part of your brain. Then when you shut the tv off, your comedy can play in your mind and your scary movie seems farther out of reach. Do this for your children. Get them talking about a fun part of their day. Ask them about their favourite tv show, playtime with friends, what fun things they did at preschool. Anything to have them start thinking about positive things they love. This works really well with my 3 year old.

Good Luck!


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