talking to toddlers

How to Talk to Toddlers and Get Successful Results

Sometimes parents just want to get a point across to their toddler and their sweet little one all but ignores them or throws a tantrum. Ahhh, the dreaded tantrum. Parents – even successful ones – will do almost anything to avoid them when we can. Good news! Here are tips on what parents can do to get successful results when talking with their toddler and developing routines of handling communication with your little one. These tips go along with discipline and avoiding tantrums, but some also teach other skills like independence or help with intellectual growth. If used regularly these communication tips can become powerful communication skills in your parenting toolbox.

When it comes to safety, keep it short and sweet. Say, “Stop!” when you mean stop right now. No reason to add any extra verbiage when your child is reaching for something on the stove or playing with the electric socket. You can explain why you asked your toddler to stop after they actually do the stopping or you get close enough to them to help them stop. I want parents to note, however, that you shouldn’t overuse this communication tactic – if you use it too much for non-emergency reasons, it will take away its potency when you really need it.

Ask a question when your toddler has a choice. Otherwise use declarative statements and add a choice.

For instance, instead of saying “Would you like to get ready for bed now?”
Try something like this: “It is time to get ready for bed. Which pajamas would you like to wear?”

This way of talking to a toddler still gives them control, which allows them to learn independence and confidence. But, it also allows them to understand the rules, which gives them respect for authority and the ability to know their boundaries.

Build your toddler’s vocabulary by labeling the things that you see in books, on car rides, and anywhere you can find things that are new. Repeat the labels and be sure to follow suit when you’re toddler starts to label things for you. You’ll want to praise your child for remembering what things are called. By pointing out the day-to-day things that are around your toddler, labeling is an excellent communication tool. You’ll find that as your toddler’s vocabulary grows, communication with them becomes much easier because you no longer have to puzzle out what they are saying.

You’ll also want to label your toddler’s emotions to help them understand what they are feeling. For instance, when your child gets frustrated that a toy is not working the way they wanted it to work, let them know that the motion they are feeling his frustration by saying: “I see that your toy is not working and you’re really feeling frustrated right now.” Once your toddler understands what they’re feeling and the words that go with it, they will be able to tell you how they feel when the need arises.

List things out for your toddler. It helps a toddler understand the concept of time when you put things in order for them. Parents can use the toddler’s daily schedule and routines to help them learn this concept. First we put the bathwater in the down and then we put the baby in the bath. Or, first we go to the post office and then we go to the grocery store.

Develop a communication routine that works with your toddler when they are upset. During these times, talking can take a backseat for a parent and active listening becomes more important, understanding how your child feels and giving them alternatives to exploding into a tantrum is the goal of this communication routine.

Part of the reason active listening needs to be in the forefront is because we can misunderstand our children so easily. When you actively listened to kids, you repeat what they’ve told you or what you think you know about their message. Then you allow them the opportunity to correct you before you take a turn to talk.
Only after you understand what your toddler is saying can you empathize with what they want and what they need. While you may not always be able to give them what they want, being understanding will help you keep from getting too frustrated to handle the problem at hand.

One book I’ve read that talks about communication and tantrums is The Happiest Toddler on the Block, by Dr. Harvey Karp (Buy it @Amazon). The book explains that the tantrums should stop if you communicate with your tantrum-prone toddler in what he calls “toddler-ese”.

I hope these tips will help you get the successful results you want from communicating with your toddler. Got some more parenting tips on talking with toddlers to share? Please feel free to share them in the comments section below.

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