Parenting Advice on Toddlers and Learning to Listen

Trying to get children of any age to listen is a challenge-some adults won't even listen to their parents! But if you start teaching children the value of listening while they are young at least you have a chance to show them how to learn to listen when others are speaking-that alone is good parenting. Parenting advice-toddlers and otherwise-is geared toward reminding parents what they already know; largely, it is about using common sense and having manners.

This means that you will get to be a role model. Do they see you stop what you are doing and look someone in the eye while they are speaking or do they see you nod uncommitted and continue to look down at whatever you were doing? When you meet a friend on the street, do you actively engage in conversation or do you look away while you think about other, more pressing problems? Do you ask leading questions which are the cornerstone of an actual conversation and do you actively listen? Actively listening is about asking questions to get a clear picture of what the other person is saying. By actively listening you can avoid jumping to conclusions about a situation. This comes in handy especially when your child is trying to explain to you why they got in trouble at school today. It sure comes in handy when parenting adolescents.

But back to the toddlers; with children that young, the best way to teach them to listen is to have them repeat back what you just said. This can be interesting because you may find that they are hearing something completely different than what you meant. For toddlers who are just learning to speak, this obviously won't work as well, but then how high are your expectations for them to hear what you meant? Even at the young age of two, you can still start practicing teaching your child to listen by asking them what they heard you say. (Not if they heard what you said.) This is one of the first skills you are taught in parenting children with ADHD.

This works with all of your family members if you can do it without sounding condescending. It certainly doesn't hurt to ask someone to clarify what it was that they thought you said. Wars have started over less. Remember to look your children in the eye when they speak. Repeat back to them what you heard, and allow for them to clarify it if you heard wrong. Do not argue with them, you may not have made yourself clear. By following this parenting advice for your toddler you are beginning to teach them respect.


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