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Old 06-14-2007, 10:11 AM   #1
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When can we expect toddlers to listen?

I am afraid I am training my 17 month old DD to only listen to me after I've asked/told her to do something 15 times. I do not want to do that! But when can we expect them to listen to us? My top complaint is probably not sitting when I tell her to (she likes to stand at the table and in her highchair). Usually I just remove her from the table and let her come back later, but not always. I don't want her to miss all of dinner! It's also annoing that she likes to feed her food (often expensive, orgainc food!) to the dog. Or just to come inside when I call her, etc., stuff like that. When can we realisticly expect those things? Please tell me it's soon. I'm starting to feel like a broken record!

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Old 06-14-2007, 10:17 AM   #2
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Re: When can we expect toddlers to listen?



I've been told I'm expecting too much from my 2 1/2 year old. But I mean really when she stands there giving me a nasty look after I tell her to stop doing something I know she has heard me, and fully understands too. Which causes my irritation level to go through the roof because it's a non-stop battle to get her to even do simple things (pick up her toys in the living room, or close the cabinet door on the entertainment center).

I'm not helping you feel any better I'm sure.... sorry.

ETA: I just told her to step away from the electronics - 3 times all ending in please - she pouted with her arms crossed through 2 of the requests and the 3rd one she pointed at me said "you hush".

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Old 06-14-2007, 10:21 AM   #3
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Re: When can we expect toddlers to listen?

I'm told that I expect too much of my 20 month old also. Except that with him I started counting to three. He knows that if I get to three, he's going in time out. And he's learned that if he's in time out, he doesn't come out until I tell him to. But I started putting him in time out even at the grocery store and in the mall. The way I figure it, I would rather set rules for him now than seeing him steal a car when he's sixteen. I have some friends that "try" to do the counting to three thing but they never come through with it and their 3 1/2 year old son knows it. He doesn't care when they tell him to do or stop doing something since he knows he's not going to get in trouble. I don't want my kid to be like that. I don't spank him or anything, I just put in on time out. It took him a few days, but when he realized that once I got to three he was going to the wall; he started listening to me.
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Old 06-14-2007, 10:24 AM   #4
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Re: When can we expect toddlers to listen?

You really cannot expect toddlers to do what is asked, it is a continual process of modelling behavior and/or removing things from their hands, physically putting them where they need to be, etc. My DC began to consistently "follow the rules" of basic things around 3-ish, which also coincided with when they began Montessori preschool (which was all modelling behavior as well). But if the desire to do what it was they were doing outweighed my telling them to do something else, it wasn't going to work, not until .. well.... I'm still having some of those issues with my 6 year old. It is a very gradual progression .
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Old 06-14-2007, 10:40 AM   #5
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Re: When can we expect toddlers to listen?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve's Wife View Post
I am afraid I am training my 17 month old DD to only listen to me after I've asked/told her to do something 15 times. I do not want to do that! But when can we expect them to listen to us? My top complaint is probably not sitting when I tell her to (she likes to stand at the table and in her highchair). Usually I just remove her from the table and let her come back later, but not always. I don't want her to miss all of dinner! It's also annoing that she likes to feed her food (often expensive, orgainc food!) to the dog. Or just to come inside when I call her, etc., stuff like that. When can we realisticly expect those things? Please tell me it's soon. I'm starting to feel like a broken record!
I know it is so fustrating! You may try asking once and then the second time say, "Do you need Mommy to help you sit down?" and then assist her back to sitting, etc. Call her and then ask if she can do it by herself or does she need Mommy's help, etc. It is important to model what you want done and not ask 20 times and then get fustrated. I am guilty of that!! As far as feeding the dog, put the dog in another room when you are eating may help.

As that age it is hard to say, my DD's are 2 1/2 & 3 1/2 so they DO know, we do spank at times and use time out, we set the timer to pick up toys and if they are not picked up then I take them away, etc.
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Old 06-14-2007, 11:08 AM   #6
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Re: When can we expect toddlers to listen?

First, every child is different, but here's what works for me.

Most children just want a reaction from you. Ever notice your child looking at you (for a reaction) after he does something? My DD looks right at me after she does anything. Almost as if to say, "What do you think about that, Mommy?" Ever have a child laugh when you're trying to reprimand them, or you show an unhappy reaction? He thinks you're playing a game.

Here's what I do. Instead of repeating to my DD what I do NOT want her to do (filling her ears and head over and over with things I do not want her to do) I tell her what I DO want her to do, and show a big reaction when she listens. If she does not listen, I asses the situation. Would it be better for me to show her what I am telling her to do, or would it be better for me to have no reaction at all?

When she picks up food and hangs over the tray of her high chair, I say "Give that to Mommy, please." and I hold out my hand. If she gives me the food, I praise her and make a HUGE deal out of it (give her the reaction she's looking for). If she drops it on the floor, I do nothing, and I mean nothing. Do not say anything, do not pick it up, NOTHING. It took about 3 days of nothing to make her understand that if she wants a reaction from me, she needs to hand me the food. (You might need to remove your dogs from the eating area when your family eats to enable to you have a nothing reaction to food on the floor). Another thing you might try (and I used to do when she dropped food on the floor before I "trained" her) is to have her help you pick food up off the floor when dinner is finished.

Just an example of a situation where I would show her what I want her to do (instead of ingoring her)... I've never used a baby gate on the stairs. Nor have I ever told my daughter not to play on the stairs. Instead I say, "Wait for Mommy" and I walk over to her and help her with the stairs. When she was little, little, saying "Wait for Mommy" was enough to just get her attention so that I could *run* over and help her (showing her how to go down backwards, or assisting her to climb up). Once I had her trained to really wait for me to finish what I'm doing, I just remind her to "Wait for Mommy" and she does. This "Wait for Mommy" reminder works great in a lot of other situations, too (instead of "Don't run out into the street, Don't touch the hot stove... "Wait for Mommy" tells her what I want her to do, not what I don't want her to do.) And remember PRAISE, PRAISE, PRAISE - give a BIG reaction when you get the response you're looking for.

Last edited by Bot Girl; 06-14-2007 at 11:30 AM. Reason: Added last sentence
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Old 06-14-2007, 11:13 AM   #7
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Re: When can we expect toddlers to listen?

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Originally Posted by eirbjorn View Post
You really cannot expect toddlers to do what is asked, it is a continual process of modelling behavior and/or removing things from their hands, physically putting them where they need to be, etc. My DC began to consistently "follow the rules" of basic things around 3-ish, which also coincided with when they began Montessori preschool (which was all modelling behavior as well). But if the desire to do what it was they were doing outweighed my telling them to do something else, it wasn't going to work, not until .. well.... I'm still having some of those issues with my 6 year old. It is a very gradual progression .
I totally agree.
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Old 06-14-2007, 11:21 AM   #8
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Re: When can we expect toddlers to listen?

PS, my DD is 15 months old. She picks up her toys, says (well, signs) please and thank you, tells me when her diaper needs changed, never gets into the cat food/water... sorry, just had to brag a little. I absolutely expect her to do what I tell her (which is why I always tell her what I want her to do, not what I don't want her to do). Sometime I have to reinforce what I'm telling her to do by showing her what I mean, but she does what I tell her to do.

Last edited by Bot Girl; 06-14-2007 at 11:29 AM. Reason: spelling error
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Old 06-14-2007, 11:39 AM   #9
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Re: When can we expect toddlers to listen?

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PS, my DD is 15 months old. She picks up her toys, says (well, signs) please and thank you, tells me when her diaper needs changed, never gets into the cat food/water... sorry, just had to brag a little. I absolutely expect her to do what I tell her (which is why I always tell her what I want her to do, not what I don't want her to do). Sometime I have to reinforce what I'm telling her to do by showing her what I mean, but she does what I tell her to do.
I like your suggestions about sending positive, or "yes" messages rather than "no" messages. That worked really well for us when dd was your dd's age. Now that she's 2 (birthday's the 23rd), she's a little beyond that. Instead of her being able to do things on her own/explore on her own being a novelty, a sit was at 15 months, it's now a right (in her mind) and a mark of being a big girl.

At 2, we're struggling with this. We had a blowup this morning over dd not listening. I try to get her direct attention - I ask her to look at me, or look at my eyes, then tell her what needs done. Just talking to the side of her head doesn't work for us. We have about a 75% success rate w/ the "look at mommy" approach. Also, I've found that a lot of the time, she's not NOT listening, but she really feels compelled to finish what she's doing at the moment before going along with my instructions. If it's something that'll just take a minute, like putting the last book away, I'll allow it. Otherwise, I'll explain that we can finish whatever it is later, after doing what needs done first - like, "we can finish transporting each piece of kitty kibble from one bowl to the next after we put our shoes on and do our hair." Also, having her say goodbye to whatever it is she's into works wonders - say goodbye to the tv, say goodbye to the slide...Just be prepared, my dd likes to also *kiss* whatever it is goodbye, or, at the very least, hug it goodbye. Sigh. 2 year olds.
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Old 06-14-2007, 11:39 AM   #10
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Re: When can we expect toddlers to listen?

Somewhere between about 1 1/2 and 2 1/2 most toddlers can begin to understand the concept of consequences. With my 20 month old I try to follow the "2x rule" (taken from the very excellent "Raise Your Kids Without Raising Your Voice by Sarah Chana Radcliffe). I will tell him what I want him to do or not do. If he doesn't respond, I repeat it, this time with a consequence. For example, "If you pour water out of the bathtub again, Mommy is going to take you out of the bath". I find that as long as I am consistent in following through, he does get the idea and generally does not need to be told again. Toddlerhood is all about learning the laws of the land. It is hard to expect that they will miraculously start listening all on their own - there are too many fun things to get into trouble with! However, by being consistent and giving them a reason to listen (positive feedback, logical consequences, etc.) toddlers will eventually start to listen.
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