Talking To Toddler : How Do You Deal with Three Year Olds?

Three Year Old Behavior Solutions for Every Parent

talking to toddler

I’m a big believer in using language as a tool. And since your three year old is now able to express himself much more clearly than a year ago, this is a great time to use language. Many of my best parenting tips are unique because nobody else seems to be teaching this stuff.

 The most important language tool is to do something I call “entering their world”. If your child doesn’t feel like you understand him, or at least that you are trying to understand him, you’ll encounter a big wall of resistance. What happens next? Welcome to tantrum-ville.

 You can enter your child’s world by simply telling your child what you know to be true about his situation. Quick example: “Tommy, I know that you want to play over here with this toy.” Next you can build upon this rapport with an amplification statement such as, “…and that sure does look like a really fun toy. I bet you really like the nice colors!”

 Doing this is like magic. Please don’t overlook it as simplistic and childish. It’s supposed to be! You’re dealing with a child! You need to enter their world and that’s how you do it. The moment you do, your child is more calm, and open to distraction, suggestion, humor, or logical consequences (should you need them).

 If you are butting heads with your toddler, always build rapport by entering their world before you try to implement any kind of behavioral change tactic. Otherwise, I promise you that you’ll have a more stressful time and there will be more tears. You’re mission is to prevent that, right? I thought so.

Let’s walk through a simple teaching example.

 Say your 3 year old child wants to get a glass out of the cupboard by himself. You can’t have him climbing up on the counter and risking a fall, or having a glass shatter in his face. So you say “no” and you do it for him. He doesn’t understand. He throws a fit. All of a sudden you’re sitting there wondering, “What’s wrong with my three year old’s behavior?”.

 It all could have been prevented very easily. How? You first enter the child’s world with a comment such as, “Bobby I’m really proud of you for wanting to get things for yourself. It’s important to learn new things”. I’d even go so far as to be very specific and say, “You want to get a cup down all by yourself. That’s great.”

 Knowing that you can’t explain the logic behind the danger of broken glass, you need to shift his attention. I recommend offering a choice where both outcomes are what you want. Grab two plastic cups and put them in the cupboard. Say to him, “Bobby – which cup are you going to get down all by yourself? The blue one or the orange one?” Chances are good he’ll pick one. Then, lift him so he can open the cupboard door himself and take out the cup. Disaster averted.

 Maybe he refuses the plastic cups. He insists that he must drink out of a glass cup just like Mom and Dad. After all, kids model their parents. They want to do what we do. How do you handle this?

 There are so many possibilities, and I explain them in my “Talking to Toddlers” audio course. But one example would be to use humor as a distraction. First, you’d establish that Bobby wants to drink out of the glass cup and NOT the plastic cup. So long as you’re OK with him drinking (carefully, at the table) out of a glass cup, you probably want to get it down for him.

You take down the cup without giving him a chance to object, but you immediately implement humor. Hold the glass over one eye, looking through the bottom. Start making pirate noises and pretending it’s a telescope. “Arggg … Bobby, I see you down there and I’m coming to get you!” Said in a humorous way, this will almost always burst your child into giggles. Next thing you know he’s completely forgotten about wanting to get the cup down for himself. You’d still want to tell him that you are proud of him for drinking so neatly, all by himself.

 The worst case scenario is that none of this will work, and you’ll have to fall back on basic training. You go back to offering him a choice. He can either have you take down the glass cup, or he can take down the plastic cup. You stay calm and unemotional. You make it clear that these are his choices and it’s up to him to decide. If he doesn’t decide, he doesn’t drink. And if he throws a tantrum, you may simply have to leave the room and let him know that you’ll come back after he calms down. I’ve had to do this with my daughters plenty of times. It doesn’t take long before they know the drill.

 Just remember that if you yell right back at your child, you are NOT in their world. You’re on the outside. You are raising the stress levels and throwing away your opportunity to either enjoy your child in the moment, or train him to understand a basic household rule. You don’t want that.

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About Nicole
Hi...my name is Nicole...I'm just ordinary young mom who loves blogging about anything especially about family and kids.

2 Responses to Talking To Toddler : How Do You Deal with Three Year Olds?

  1. Humor is definitely a great thing, if you can make a kid laugh, it is likely you can resolve a lot of communication issues that arise with kids. It’s just hard for some parents to come up with something humorous right away. Hopefully it’s an acquired skill – the more you remember to do it, the better you get.

    Another great way that helps me with my girl – I turn our dispute into a story. For example last night she wanted to watch more cartoons than she is usually allowed, so she got really upset when I said no, so I sat her on my lap facing me and said: “You want to hear a story about these cartoons?” and I just had to spontaneously produce a short tale about baby squirrel who watched too many cartoons and didn’t collect enough nuts to eat in the winter, so her mommy squirrel told her to stop watching them and help her out finding nuts in the forest and later when the cold times came, mommy squirrel and baby squirrel snuggled together in their little warm home watching cartoons together and eating the nuts they had saved for the winter”. She got distracted and started asking me questions about squirrels and how they live in the little house. It doesn’t really matter where you take the story and whether it has a point, for a three year old it just has to be entertaining enough to take their attention. Those stories save me from a lot of trouble, even though some of them are really-really silly.

    • Nicole says:

      LOL…I have the same experience with my baby girl too….she watch over and over cartoon in my laptop until nearly midnight and I push me to came up with silly stories to take her attention away from the cartoon…But this didn’t happen anymore because I arrange her schedule to watch cartoon only in Saturday and Sunday. She understand the rule and only on weekend she asked to watch cartoon…..

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