IS there anything more frustrating than being ignored and having to repeat yourself?
Unfortunately, this is the very scenario many parents are faced with when their toddler refuses to listen.
A parenting expert has shared her six top tips to help make sure your little ones start listening to you first time round. Pictured, stock imageCredit: Getty
Hannah Love (pictured) is a nanny, paediatric nurse and nutritional therapistCredit: Hannah Love
But according to parenting expert Hannah Love, who is also a nanny and paediatric nurse, there are six easy tips that’ll ensure this soon becomes a problem of the past.
Speaking exclusively to Fabulous, Hannah explains: “I also apply the CALM system, which stands for Consistent, Achievable, Loving and Manageable.
“In order for change to happen, all these aspects must be in place. If the parent is consistent in the instructions, the instructions are manageable for the child, they’re put forward in a loving way and the outcome will be achievable.”
Ensure your toddler is not distracted
Hannah, who runs a free parenting community, highlights the importance of getting your toddler to look at you when you’re talking to them.
“Small children have less capacity to think, listen and talk independently as those areas of the brain are immature,” she says.
“Therefore if they aren’t looking at you and focusing their attention on you they simply won’t hear what you’re saying to them.”
Offering an example, she explains: “If they’re playing with their toy and you ask them to come and wash their hands, they’ll be oblivious to your request.“
Get them to repeat back to you
Hannah says you can ensure your child has listened, and that they’ve heard your instructions, by asking them to repeat what you’ve said.
She offers the following example: “We are going out to the shops and you must put your shoes on – what do I need you to put on?”
Hannah explains: “They need to say ‘shoes.’”
The parenting guru continues: “Or if you’re letting them know it’s dinner time soon, turn off the TV (or walk in front of it) and ask them to look at you.
“Say ‘in five minutes it’s going to be dinner time and you’ll need to turn off the TV and wash your hands – do you understand?”
“If you’re at all worried they’re just nodding their head in agreement, ask them: “What do you need to do in 5 minutes?”
She says the answer must be “wash hands” or “dinner”.
Give clear directions and avoid questions
According to Hannah, it’s important you also give clear directions and avoid questions.
“All too often parents give a direction as a question,” she explains.
She uses the example: “Please can you come to the table for dinner?”
Hannah comments: “This question isn’t a clear direction and it’s confusing to toddlers. If they need to do something then be clear with what’s expected.”
Instead, the parenting expert notes that the correct way to give the instruction is: “It’s dinner time and you must come and sit at the table now.”
The nanny explains it’s important to give toddlers options and choices.
“The toddler years are a time when they’re wanting to show their personalities,” she says. “It’s a time when they realise they are an individual and aren’t any longer a part of you.”
She continues: “This can cause all kinds of pushing of boundaries but a great way to allow this newfound personality, but with you remaining in control of situations, is through giving the child choices.”
Hannah goes on to give a good example: “Would you like to wear the blue trousers or the red skirt?”
However, the parenting guru warns that if there’s no choice then you must be clear and tell them that from the start.
Hannah offers a good example: ‘It is raining outside so you must wear your wellies.”
Praise helps to confirm positive behaviour choices
Hannah explains that many parents fall into the trap of giving more attention to their child’s negative behaviour, and overlooking any positive behaviour.
“This can in turn lead to the toddler continuing the behaviour choices you don’t want – just to get the attention they desire,” she says.
According to the expert, if you want your child to listen, you must praise good listening by making a “big fuss.”
Among the suggestions she offers includes: ““Wow look how good your listening was”, “Well done for listening” and “Are your ears big boy ears today? Let me have a look as they listened sooooo well!”
She adds: “This will make them feel good and encourage that kind of behaviour from them.”
No means no
Hannah concludes by pointing out the importance of being consistent with responses.
“If you say no then you absolutely must mean no,” she explains. “If you give in after a tantrum or them whinging then you will encourage that behaviour.
“They will never listen to you in the future because they’ll have learnt that all they need to do is whinge or have a tantrum if they don’t want to do something.”
She adds that if you ask something of your toddler and they don’t do it, you must ensure this doesn’t get overlooked.
“The instruction might seem small to you, for example to stop throwing a ball, but if you overlook it how will they know you need them to listen next time?
“The best way to ensure your toddler listens all the time is to be consistent with the response when they don’t, and ensure that they (and you) follow through and take that ball away.
The parenting expert concludes by warning: “BUT also pick your ‘no’s’ – if you always say no it can lead to a toddler shutting off.”
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