It can be difficult for young children to listen to others. On one hand, the little brains are still struggling with impulse control while on the other, they are at a developmental stage where they have started asserting their individuality. The following provides helpful phrases to use when children don’t seem to listen.
“We will leave in 10 minutes!”
A phrase like this lets the child know what is going to happen next and gives them time to finish whatever they are busy with. No one likes to be yanked away from doing something interesting and so if you keep saying “Hurry Up! We have to leave now”, chances are they will turn a deaf ear. Instead, it is a better idea to give them a bit of advance notice and then firmly get on with what you are supposed to.
“Do you want to colour with the red pencil or the blue?”
Giving a choice is one of the most effective ways to engage children. However, see that you offer controlled choices between two options and those that are feasible. If you say, “So, what do you want to do?”, the child can come up with answers like “I want to go to the beach” which may not be practical. Similarly asking something like “which colour pencil do you want?”, may prove disconcerting by offering too many options.
“I see you are finding it tough to….., do you want help?”
This sort of phrase is especially helpful when young kids are facing a challenge but are determined not to give up. In such a situation if you step in without permission, chances are they will throw a tantrum but letting the child be, could mean wasting time. On the other hand, by asking if they need help, you are allowing the child to decide what they really want and giving them an opportunity to get it.
“Can you use words, please?”
Instead of ordering the child to “Stop Whining”, request them to express themselves in words as best as they can. However, ensure that the child has the requisite vocabulary to be able to say what is troubling them.
“Let’s use gentle hands”
In case a child is getting a little too exuberant while playing with other children, this phrase can prove more effective than shouting “Stop that now” or “Stop pulling him/her around”. If the rough play continues, use redirection or physically remove the child from another play area.
“I am going to wait for you to calm down”
It is tempting to match a temper tantrum with louder yelling but raised voices only to heighten anxiety levels further. So rather than repeatedly saying “No more yelling”, take a step back and wait for the child to calm down. Stay close in case the child wants to be physically soothed or guided on slow breathing techniques. Sometimes a time-out and a bit of space are all the child needs to reflect and listen to.
For Educators, one of the hardest tasks is getting children to listen. It may be easier for some but for others (especially Educators who are casual) it can be difficult to get the children to pay attention and to listen to your instructions.
When talking to children make there are no other distractions. Get their attention and let them know that you need to talk to them. Making eye contact is essential.
Phrases When Your Toddler Doesn't Listen, Easy Mommy Life