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There are days when I am not sure if anyone can hear my voice.  And then, to top it off, I start to feel crazy as I have said the same thing about 718 times… to my toddler.  I get it.  They just won’t listen!!  I honestly wonder if maybe I should get his hearing checked.

I think one of the most common grips of parents with toddler & preschoolers is that they feel their kiddos never listen and then even they do they do the exact opposite of what we asked.  My toddler/preschooler is a prime example of this.

To start, you are not alone.  And second, you are doing the very best you can and make sure to give yourself more credit!

Here are a few tips I have used to help increase listening in my toddler.

Before I start please remember I am not a doctor nor am I an expert on YOUR child so take these tips and apply them to your life in a way that fits your family.  I am, however,  an ordinary mom just trying to get through each day with a happy and healthy toddler.


When we talk to kiddos from way above often times the connection they need to full understand is lost in the distance.  Therefore getting down on their level can make a huge difference.  Not only does it make them feel more equal but it allows them to see your eyes.  Furthermore it helps them see the words coming out of your mouth.  Creating a multi-sensory approach can greatly decrease the probability of them not listening.  They can see you, they can hear and they can touch you all while you are giving directions… they have a better chance of absorbing the meaning.  Give it a try… get low!


We have all sat through exceedingly long drawn out conversations or talks and about fallen asleep and at the end you aren’t even sure what the main message was.  Using 3-4 word directions for your toddler/preschooler can negate this problem.  Instead of giving them a long winded explanation of what they need to do or bombarding them with 8+ things to do at once try giving them simple one step directions.  Try “pick up your book” vs “go clean up your room and make sure it is all neat and organized.”  When speaking to little humans we want to ensure we clear and concise to avoid any unneeded information.  Focus on want them to do… make it clear.  Using 3-4 words to convey your message will help your toddler hear you and then in turn act accordingly.


I started doing this with my son and it has made a HUGE difference.  After I ask him to do something I ask him to tell me what I said… this ensures complete comprehension and understanding.  When he is able to repeat to me what I asked him I can ensure he understood or clear up any misunderstandings.  Once we started this he started being able to accomplish a lot more.  After we mastered this we were able to start building up to 2-4 step directions.  Having them repeat you can really help you stop having to say the same thing over and over and will help your kiddo feel more confident in their task.


Let’s be real here… we all need a little time to process all the stimuli in our environments.  So do kids.  Once you ask your toddler/preschool to do something allow them a few seconds- maybe even 10- to repeat the directions and act.  Giving them wait time allows them to full process what you have said.  For my son, he takes a bit longer to process and therefore this tip is very crucial in helping him get all the information.  Little kids are bombarded with so many stimuli that letting them have a few extra seconds to sort through it all could make a big difference.  10 seconds seems like a LONG time while you stand there and wait but spending 10 extra seconds is a lot better than spending 30 extra minutes repeating yourself over and over.  Allow a few extra seconds of wait time and see how much less time you have to spend nagging at your kiddo!


Positive reinforcement works for all of us!  If you get a bonus for good work you are more likely to continue to do your best at your job.  If you are told over and over that you are a great mother you are likely to believe you are!  That is human nature.  The power of praise is amazing to watch in toddler/preschoolers.  Something small, like 3 skittles or gummy bears, coupled with a “good job” can have lasting effects.  Praising your kiddo after they have listened will propel them to listen again and again. Now, some of you want your kiddos to gain intrinsic motivation- and I get that- but at this age our kiddos are not equipped for that.  Give them a few years.  Praising them when they do what you ask.  It drives them to listen again… and isn’t that what we all want?!?

Believe me I am in the thick of it right now with my preschooler but when I am consistently implement these five easy tips I feel a little more sane and our house is just a happier.  Toddlers and Preschoolers are tough but at the end of the day they are sweetest little munchkins.  Give them a little more support.  Praise them.

Getting toddlers to listen does not have to be stressful nor tireless.  These few tips are a great start to helping everyone have a better day!!



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