How Do I Get My Toddler To Listen?

Hi Loves! This week’s blog is dedicated to the beautiful Mommies of Mamarama! Thank you so much for all the great topic suggestions. I will try my best to address all your requests and help out as much as possible. I received a lot of requests this week for tips on behavior modification and discipline for toddlers. This is one of my favorite topics to discuss. So lets get started!

1. START EARLY! I can not stress enough how important it is to start disciplining your child early. My daughter is one and half year old and we have already started setting boundaries and rules for her. At the age of 2, toddlers begin to become more independent and rebellious. It is necessary to establish that you are in charge and that no, means no. There is a quick rule for quiet time (aka timeout)- 1 minute for every year of his or her age. So if you have a 1 year old, quiet time would be 1 minute. It is important that after the time out, you tell them how much you love them and why it is important not to do the negative behavior.

2. KNOW WHAT WORKS FOR YOUR CHILD! There is no strategy or advice that I will give you or anyone else that will work for every single child. You have to take the time to observe your child in different settings. Watch them during pre-school, mommy and me, and with their other parent and see how they respond to different tactics. Some children respond extremely well to positive reinforcement and rewards. Some respond better to discipline. Once I figured out that my son, Mason responds well to a reward system, it became extremely easy to modify his behavior.

3. INSTANT POSITIVE FEEDBACK. The research has shown time and time again that positive reinforcement is the best tactic for behavioral modification. We use sticker charts in our household. In the beginning of the month, Mason picks his own reward. Last month it was movie night with Mom and Dad. We make a chart and once he gets 25 stickers, he gets his reward. I think when they pick out their own reward that they are more motivated to achieve the goal. The younger the child, the easier the goal should be. The key to making the sticker chart work is to give the sticker immediately after the good deed is done. “That was great listening, lets go put a sticker on your chart!” Try to give at least one sticker a day. They will lose interest and momentum if you aren’t incorporating it into their daily routine.

4. BE CONSISTENT AND PATIENT. Behavior modification is not something that will be achieved in a week or even a month. You have to be patient and consistent. Make sure that you set firm boundaries and always enforce them. If you aren’t consistent, you will not be successful. For example, if you tell your child he can’t have dessert unless he picks up his toys, you must stay true to your word. The worst thing you can do is give him dessert because he will know that you will eventually give in the next time. Believe me, they remember everything! It will only make your job as a parent twice as hard if they lose respect for what you are saying.

I hope these simple guidelines help! We will definitely be exploring this topic a lot on Forever Freckled as I know how challenging disciplining your children can be! Please continue to send in requests and subscribe.

See you next Wednesday!

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  1. Hi Katie, I love your blog! I have a 14 month old, and I have been letting him run the show till now. I think it is time for us to start setting boundaries, but I am not sure of where to start. Can you give me some examples of what you are doing with your youngest?

  2. Hey Rachel, Thanks so much for your kind words. We are a new blog and so much appreciate the support and positive feedback. At this stage, I would keep it simple. For my daughter, it is two things!!
    1 deliberate disobedience (aka testing me)
    2. Physical contact (she hits her brother).