Useful Advice on Teaching a Toddler to Listen

If you have a kid, or you know someone who has one, then you know they are not good at listening. It’s not something they’re born with. Listening skills are skills that we ought to teach, encourage, and reinforce. At times, you might find that you tell your kid something but it seems that either he has not heard you or ignored you.

time with a toddler

Toddlers aren’t that good at listening

1. Don’t Begin to Talk Until Your Child is Attentive

When it comes to teaching a toddler to listen, you have to establish a connection before you have any conversation. This implies that you can’t be yelling instructions from another room and expect your child to obey these instructions. All you need to do is to go where the child is.
Go down to his level and gently touch him. Look at what he is doing and then connect with him by commenting about it. “How did she do it?” When we connect with another individual, we are more likely to allow them to influence us, thus your child will easily pay attention to you. Remember that you are not manipulating him. You respect what he sees as important. Once he looks up, look him straight into his eyes and begin to talk. If he does not look up, ask him. “Can I tell you something?” You will have his attention. Then when he looks at you, start talking to him. This is one technique on how to make a toddler listen without yelling.

2. How to Make Toddler Listen and Obey – Strive to Avoid Using Don’t

“Don’t jump up and down the bed.” “Don’t throw stuff while standing next to the TV.” Don’t put the books for 5 year olds next to those for nine-year-olds.” Commands like “no” and “don’t” compel children to double process. This can be perplexing and conflicting with that child. For instance, when your child hears, “Do not touch your sister,” he will stop doing that and ascertain the alternative, suitable thing to do. If I can’t touch my sister, does it imply that I can’t play with her? Can I hug her?

smiling toddler

Avoid using don’t

3. One Instruction at a Time

Kids, especially those who have attention issues, tend not to react well to several instructions at the same time. For instance, saying, “Pick up your toys, put the dirty laundry in the basket, and help me to make your bed,” can make your kid miss something. So, regarding teaching a toddler to listen, give one command at a time. Once your toddler is done with the first task, go ahead and give another instruction.

4. Teaching a Toddler to Listen – Say Yes to Yes

How do you normally react to the lots of requests which you get from your kid daily? You probably use ‘NO’, isn’t it? Whenever your kid comes to you with many requests, it may not be easy to scrutinize them meaningfully. Therefore you’re left with giving responses such as, “No.” “No, I do not have time for that.” “Not today.” “No, you can’t have that.”

However, when you keep on telling your kids “no”, they might cease to listen to your requests. You might have a toddler who won’t listen to you when you ask them to do something. With this in mind, strive to say “yes” regularly. When you do this, your child will be delighted and will listen to your requests.

  • Rather than say “No, we can’t go visit Aunt Helen,” try “You miss Aunt Helen, huh? Why don’t we go see her on Sunday after church?”
  • Rather than “No, you can’t have pizza,” tell him “Pizza is tasty. Would you like me to order tomorrow if we have it for dinner?”

Whereas some circumstances will call for a firm “no,” by saying “yes” more often, you’re increasing the chances of your child listening to you. Regarding how to make a toddler listen and obey, this is a great technique to try out.

playing with kids

Learn to say yes to yes

kid playing with bubbles

Parents should tell; not ask

5. Tell. Do Not Ask

When giving directions to their kids, parents need to tell, not to ask. This is one mistake that parents make. Whenever you ask your kid to do something, you’re simply suggesting that he can say no. For instance, when you ask your kid, “Can you put your toy car where it normally belongs?” your child might say “No.” Alternatively, you can say, “Please put your toy car where it belongs now.”

Moreover, if possible, give your kid a five-minute warning. For example, rather than saying, “Go and eat your food,” when your kid is watching TV, say, “In five minutes it’ll be time to stop watching TV and eat your food.” After those five minutes have elapsed, tell your kid, “It’s time to stop watching TV and go eat your food now. It’s a respectful method of giving your kid time to get ready to change activities.


The above-mentioned tips will assist you to teach your toddler to listen. However, remember to follow through whenever your kid doesn’t listen. In case you instruct your child to carry out a task and they do not do it, do not make empty threats or promises. You will lose your credibility as a parent. That’s why the toddler doesn’t listen. They won’t trust you.

Strive to mean what you say and ensure you follow through. Don’t cave in due to tantrums or puppy dog eyes. There should be consequences if they do not listen. Moreover, strive not to repeat yourself with your kid. Are there any other techniques that you’ve used to make your child listen to you?

Laura Casey

Laura Casey is a blogger, mother, and housewife who shares her vast experience in parenting, motherhood, and pregnancy. Her articles have already helped a lot of people who deal with parenting. She draws inspiration from raising kids and Motherhood itself. She believes that Parenthood can connect people all over the world.

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