The toddler years can be rough. This is the time when your child is going through stages in their development where they are learning their independence. It can be so hard to get your kids to listen.
This is the stage of life when we see kids learning ownership, AKA not wanting to share (check out this post for tips on how to teach your child to share), having their favorite word become “no”, insisting on doing everything themselves, throwing a lot of tantrums, and we might even start seeing some aggression as they learn to deal with big emotions.
Get Kids to Listen When You Ask One Question
There is one simple phrase that can help parents get to the bottom of most of these conflicts: What do you need?
It is so important to remember that behavior is communication. When your child is having a meltdown, showing aggression, refusing to share, etc it can be helpful to take a step back and ask yourself “What do they need?”
Try to identify what it is that your child might be feeling at that moment. Do they seem frustrated? Perhaps they are worried? Has somebody violated a boundary of theirs and they aren’t sure how to handle it? Are they hungry or tired? Maybe they are whining because they want to be held and comforted?
It can be really helpful to start asking questions.
“Would you like a hug?”
“Do you need some help?”
“Do you want me to pick you up?”
“Are you hungry?”
It is almost natural for parents to immediately correct a behavior. But when we do this without looking at the cause, we may actually create additional problems that will also need correction. This creates more struggle for both the parent and the child.
The root cause of a lot of the toddler drama is simply that they don’t yet know how to communicate their wants and needs. When you remember to step back and ask “What do you need?”, you send a reminder to yourself to fix the actual root of the problem rather than putting a bandaid on it.
Listen To Your Toddler
When we remember that behavior is communication, we show our child that we are on their team. We teach them that we are a loving teacher. That we are there to help them navigate the tricky situations until they have the skills to handle it on their own. It is so much easier to get your toddler to listen when we listen to them too.
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