2 Sanity Saving Tips To Help You Communicate Better With Your Toddler

The challenges and privileges involved in raising a child through the toddler years can seem endless. On top of power struggles and picky eating, the most obvious challenge is communicating in a way that your toddler will listen.

In the book The Happiest Toddler on the Block, Dr. Harvey Karp sharespractical advice and tips to transform day-to-day life from a constant battle of wills, to an opportunity for learning and practicing better communication.

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Here are 2 ways on

How to (immediately) improve communicating with a toddler:

1. The Fast Food Rule

When you go to the drive thru of a fast food restaurant and place an order, the associate taking your order will usually repeat the order back to you to confirm they have received your message and understand what you want correctly.

Used in the same way, applying the fast food rule in communicating with your toddler will reduce meltdowns and frustrations . Instead of changing the subject orusing distraction, acknowledging what your toddler wants or is feeling before responding with an answer will help your toddler feel heard and respected.

For example: Say you are talking on the phone and your toddler keeps trying to get your attention (demanding that you play with them or something similar). A very normal reaction would be to tell your child "I'm on the phone, hold on" or "One minute" without actually acknowledging the child's request.

Most of the time this will escalate to more attempts to earn attention. Pausing the phone call to say, "You want me to come play with you and the dollhouse?" and receiving confirmation that that's indeed what your child wants, you follow with, "Yes, I will come play dollhouse, just as soon as I finish this call, why don't you go set it up?"

The funny thing is that we all want to be given the courtesy of being understood in this way. And you can actually employ the fast food rule in all of your relationships.

The key is to first repeat or paraphrase your understanding of what someone has shared with you before giving a response, opinion or advice. I'm personally amazed at the difference this has made in my relationship with my daughter, as well as with my husband!

2. Learn Toddler-ese

When a toddler is upset, which can seem quite frequently due to their volatile emotions and lack of coping skills, the last thing that will help them to process their emotions is a long-winded explanation. Simple two-word phrases are potent when addressing a toddler on the verge of a tantrum or meltdown.

Using the same example as before, let's say your toddler doesn't want to wait for you to get off the phone. They start to fuss and perhaps get angry because you are unwilling to give your full attention immediately.

Using toddler-ese, you say , "Mad madyou want mommy off phone now!" You can say the phrase a couple of times, until you see that your toddler feels acknowledged and then once again reinforce your stance. Once your child is calm again, feel free to speak normally. It will feel funny the first few times you attempt this but the results will speak for themselves!

I hope these methods will prove helpful for you. When it comes to parenting toddlers, it seems that having an arsenal of methods to try is often the best approach!

Posted in Dentistry Post Date 08/19/2016


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