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Tips For Dealing With a Toddler Who Won't Listen

The Tricks That'll Get Your Toddler to Listen

There's a good reason they're called the "terrible twos." Any mom can attest that kids at this stage are highly energetic and often temperamental. At times they're the cutest charmers in the world, but why do they save their meltdowns for the grocery store line or the dinner table with your in-laws?

It's challenging to maintain control and set limits, but there are ways to tame your toddler's tantrums and get her to listen to you and cooperate.

1. Remember That Meltdowns Are Normal

When your toddler loses it, it can be a terrible, nasty experience, but temper tantrums are a fact of childhood, says Katherine C. "Toddlers have very compulsive behaviors," she says. "They may listen the first time and then go and do the same thing two seconds later." When they are in the middle of a meltdown, remember, "It is hard for them to meet any more demands, so be patient."


2. Stay Calm

"Explaining, making up stories, threats, and stern tones don't always work on my daughter," says Regina P. "A calm voice with an explanation gets her to move eventually. I'd take the extra time compared to tantrums and whining any day."

3. Create a Reward System

Though her toddler was particularly prone to meltdowns at bedtime, Jaiy N. says she's discovered that the antidote is a reward system. "When it's time for bed, we take him outside to look at the moon and then he gets six fruit snacks (we call them moon snacks) while I read him his bedtime story. He'll get really excited about them (the snacks) and so we also use that to encourage cleaning, 'You want a moon snack? Okay, let's clean up so we can go look at the moon and have our moon snacks!' He's all about cleaning and getting his pajamas on, because he knows there's something at the end."

4. Give Attention and Positive Reinforcement

Suzi M. says that toddlers act out or ignore what you want them to do because they're seeking attention, and "they quickly figure out they get attention faster if they are bad. So try to praise them for little things so they feel the attention and hopefully that will make them want to do more good thing. "

In a similar vein, Casey C. advises against yelling, instead recommending positive reinforcement: "It's a really tough age, but you'll probably find that positive reinforcement is better than yelling because they usually don't listen to yelling." Like Jaiy N., she's had success establishing a rewards chart to help reinforce positive behavior. "Chart anything positive she does — helping you clean a little, and anytime she does something bad, then one gets taken away."

5. Try Timeouts

"Timeout, timeout, timeout," suggests Stephanie B. "We've started doing timeouts every time our toddler son ignores us and he's gotten a lot better," she says. "It will take days but being consistent will always work." (See also "How to Make Timeouts Work.")

6. Just Say No

"My son ignores everything I say, but he does understand, 'no' and 'don't touch,'" says Lindsey D. "Sometimes, the best way to deal with a toddler is to just say 'no' firmly."

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