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3 year old not listening

One of the most frustrating things about raising a young child is having a 2 or 3-year-old not listening to anything you say. When my son was a toddler, I found it so hard to deal with this! Luckily, a little change made things a lot easier!

Have you ever wondered why young kids just ignore your interdictions? Or why they do exactly the opposite of what you ask?

Maybe they are testing limits. Because they do this sometimes. But it can also have to do with the phrases you use.

When my son was a toddler, there was a time when walking with him on the street was a challenge. He was running, climbing on all the stairs, jumping from the top of them. Every walk was full of adrenaline for me! And also full of phrases like:

Don’t run! Stop running!

Don’t climb there!

Please don’t jump from there!

Sometimes this continued at home with:

Don’t jump from the couch!

Stop running on the slippery floor!

Don’t throw your toys like this!

I was realizing that I was becoming a nagging mom that never wanted to become. And I was hating it!

On top of this, my son was ignoring my requests. Nothing seemed to stop him from those frustrating actions!

3 year old not listeningphoto credit: Maria Sbytova / shutterstock.com

Until one day when I came across an article explaining the impact of negative language on children. And it was so eye-opening!

It seems that young kids’ brains process these phrases different than we would expect.

They don’t think of better alternatives (like walking instead of running). They just ignore the request or (even worse) they focus exactly on the behavior that we are trying to stop.

The explanation is simple. Young children’s brains use imagery much more than adults’ brains. When we say “Don’t run” the image that is created in the child’s brain is running. The fact that we add a “don’t” or a “stop” to the phrase doesn’t help too much. So the child ends up doing exactly what we want to prevent them from doing.

It’s not something that kids do on purpose. It’s more a natural consequence of the way their brains are structured.

Interesting, isn’t it?

Luckily there is an easy fix: replacing negative language with positive phrases.

Instead of telling the child what they shouldn’t do, you let them know what you would like them to do.

Negative language tells the child what they shouldn’t do. It doesn’t give any suggestions of positive actions that the child could take.

Positive language tells the child what they could do. It suggests an alternative to the behavior that you want to stop. And it sounds sound much more helpful and easy to follow.

It may seem just a little twist, but it works!

When I tried this with my toddler, things changed for good. He started paying more attention to what I was asking. And he listened to me a lot more often!

It was so great to stop repeating the same requests over and over again.

And another good thing happened. I started to say “stop” and “don’t” a lot less often. These words became more powerful when I needed to use them, usually for safety reasons.

If you face the same struggle with your kids, give it a try! You might be amazed by the impact that positive language can have on kids!

3 year old not listeningphoto credit: Sofi photo / shutterstock.com

Better alternatives to using negative language

Don’t run ⇒ Please walk

Don’t jump ⇒ Please go down slowly

Don’t yell ⇒ Please use a quiet voice

Don’t hit ⇒ Please be gentle

Don’t ride your bike so fast ⇒ Please slow down

Don’t throw the toys ⇒ Please put them gently on the ground

Don’t talk to me like that ⇒ Please use kind words

Don’t grab the toy out of another kid’s hands ⇒ Please use your words and ask for the toy

Don’t play with the ball in the house ⇒ Please only use the ball outside

Don’t slam the door ⇒ Please close it gently / without making a noise

Stop that loud tantrum ⇒ I’m here for you, tell me what happened

Don’t interrupt me ⇒ Please wait until I finish talking

Is your child not listening to you? Try this easy and helpful tip and you'll be able to communicate with your child a lot better. | Positive discipline | Positive parenting tips | Gentle parenting #GentleParenting #PositiveDiscipline #ParentingTips

These are a few examples. But once you get used to the approach you’ll see that you can transform any negative phrase into a positive one.

And it will feel great for both you and your kids!


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Is your child not listening to you? Try this easy and helpful tip!

photo credit preview photo: Monkey Business Images / shutterstock.com

 

One easy change that will help you get kids to listen with yelling or nagging! Young kids will listen to you the first time and you'll avoid tantrums and power struggles! --- Positive parenting tips | Gentle parenting advice | How to get toddlers to listen #PositiveDiscipline #PositiveParenting #ParentingTips #RaisingKids
Is your child not listening to you? Try this easy and helpful tip and you'll be able to communicate with your child a lot better. | Positive discipline | Positive parenting tips | Gentle parenting #GentleParenting #PositiveDiscipline #ParentingTipsIs your child not listening to you? Try this easy and helpful tip and you'll be able to communicate with your child a lot better. | Positive discipline | Positive parenting tips | Gentle parenting #GentleParenting #PositiveDiscipline #ParentingTips
Is your child not listening to you? Try this easy and helpful tip!Is your child not listening to you? Try this easy and helpful tip and you'll be able to communicate with your child a lot better. | Positive discipline | Positive parenting tips | Gentle parenting #GentleParenting #PositiveDiscipline #ParentingTips

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4 Comments

  1. Great tools to use with my precious grandson! He can be difficult sometimes.

  2. That’s so much eye-opening!

  3. Am so relieved to know that they is a way to get my child to listen to me. Thanks a lot

    1. I’m very glad to read this!