Babies and toddlers are much smarter than the average person thinks they are. I’m always amazed at how little other people think that my tiny tots understand. And it’s not because they’re geniuses (although they are–every mom should believe their own kids are geniuses), but because they’ve been studying, learning, and filing all this info away for a while now. They understand a lot. Like A. LOT. A lot. And the problem really is that they just don’t have the muscle control to repeat back the words and phrases yet that they could use to be able to express themselves. To help my toddler communicate, I use these 10 Phrases that Actually Work with Toddlers, that they can understand and learn to use relatively easily. Since implementing these, the number of tantrums in our house have dropped by over 75% and my little lady hasn’t been happier.
By the way, I have a huge problem with toddlers, tantrums, and the way that people view them. Toddlers having tantrums are simply frustrated people who don’t know how else to express themselves due to the limitations of their bodies (little or no fine motor skills), their situation (they’re short, they have parents that say “no”, and the world is just so much), and their ability to control the muscles of their mouths to speak. They are not just being brats. They are not just in need of a hug. They are mad they can’t tell you what they want adequately. It sucks to be them and we should show them some empathy and try to help them. In the long run, this is the only thing that will help them not tantrum: helping them.
10 Phrases that Actually Work with Toddlers
- Please. If you use it, they’ll use it. Just ask them to use it a few times and see what happens.
- Thank you. Again, this is a “monkey-see” thing. You do it, they will, and ask them to do it.
- I’m sorry. Toddlers don’t really have a fully developed ability to feel empathy, but to help develop it, they need to know when to engage that part of them. Teach them by asking them to say it when appropriate.
- Use words, please. This is difficult, but a good reminder for when they just fall back on yelling nonsense.
- Point to it. Developing the skill to point is also important, but it gets them thinking about what they want and how to get it. Problem solving!
- Tell me what you want. This combines the previous two and helps keep the baby on task for reaching their goal and not devolving into tantrum-land.
- Do you need ______? I love this one. It’s like 20 questions and can actually be kind of a fun game for both of us.
- Let me have that. Said nicely, this is what often keeps us from playing with scissors, eating paper, etc. And, if dealing with their sudden desire not to share, it helps with that a little, too.
- I want that, too, but _____. I tell my kiddo this when she’s upset she can’t sit in the front seat of the car. Or have ice cream for dinner. Anything that she just wants me to show I understand before explaining why not.
- Not safe. I think this is a critical phrase that isn’t used often enough with kids. A lot of parents just say “no” and don’t explain why. We don’t. We tell our girl that running with scissors is “not safe” then why “because you’ll hurt yourself if you fall”. A lot of times, we get a little confused look, then an “ok”.
If you implement these ideas, I’d love to hear how it helps (or doesn’t) in your house. Just leave a comment below–or hit me up on Facebook. If you just really love these ideas, pin it and share!