Tuesday, July 28, 2009

How to Get Your Toddler to Listen

Children of today’s generation are really different in terms of behavior. Way back during my childhood days, whenever I heard my mother or father calling my name I immediately ran towards them. But comparing the children today it’s very hard to get their attention. They don’t always listen. They will not pay attention whenever you call them. You need to shout their names many times in order to get their attention which sometimes resulted to punishment. According to Roni Leiderman, associate dean of the Family Center at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, "is that parents say something 10 times, then they start counting down to punishment. What this does is actually condition the child not to listen until the tenth time." By not listening, the child is getting already the attention (though constant nagging isn’t the best form of it). But being a good listener helps the child learn more effectively, heed danger signals, get along better with other people, expected to respect and make better friends. Below are simple strategies that when it is consistently followed it will teach children to become a good listener.

Get on her level.
It means that you go down into the level of a child. Talk to her in a nice. Look at her in the eye and explain to her what you want you to do.

Be clear.
State your message clearly, simply, and authoritatively. Be brief and concise in explaining your intention. They will not be able to grasp the message if it’s too long. One at a time.

Follow through — quickly.
Make it clear that you mean what you say, and don't make threats — or promises — you won't keep.

Reinforce your message.
It often helps to follow up your verbal statement with a number of other kinds of messages, especially if you are trying to pull your child away from an absorbing activity. Say "Time for bed!" and then give a visual cue (flicking the light switch on and off), a physical cue (laying a hand on her shoulder to gently pull her attention away from her doll and toward you), and a demonstration (steering her toward her bed, pulling down the covers, and patting the pillow).

Give warnings.
Give your child some advance notice before a big change will take place, especially if she's happily involved with toys or a friend. Before you're ready to leave the house, tell her, "We're going to leave in a few minutes. When I call you, it's time to come out of the sandbox and wash your hands."

Give realistic instructions.
"If you tell a 2-year-old to put his toys away, he looks around the room and says, 'Sheesh!'" says Leiderman. "Give him realistic tasks, like 'Let's put the yellow blocks away.' Then you can make it into play: 'Good, now let's put the blue blocks away.'"

Yelling orders may produce results (in some children), but no one will enjoy the process. Most children respond best when you treat them with confident good humor. For example, occasionally use a silly voice or a song to deliver your message. Praise her when she finishes the task, with "Very good!"

The good humor, affection, and trust you demonstrate to your child when speaking to her this way will make her want to listen to you, because she'll know that you love her and think she's special. This is an important aspect of even those strategies that require firmness. Giving straightforward, authoritative instructions does not mean you have to be crabby — such messages are much more powerful when accompanied by a hug or a smile. Then your child learns that paying attention to you is worthwhile.

Model good behavior.
Preschoolers will be better listeners if they see that you are a good listener, too. Make it a habit to listen to your child as respectfully as you would to any adult. Look at her when she talks to you, respond politely, and let her finish without interrupting whenever possible. While it may seem like a tall order when you're cooking dinner and your toddler is being especially chatty, try not to walk away from her or turn your back on her while she's talking. As with so many other behaviors, the old saw "Do as I say, not as I do" has no value when teaching your children to listen.

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