Talking To Toddlers

Today was the first day of my Toddler Talk group in Mission Viejo, CA. Moms and Dads and their bright-eyed 1 to 3 year olds grabbed some toys and came into our playroom. I always bring a slide to teach ‘sharing’ and a tunnel for pre-reading education, along with books to sing songs for impulse control.

As the kids play, I ask the parents to remember that this is NOT a place for your kids to behave and be judged on whether they participate correctly. Rather it is a safe place, for kids to play, for parents to ‘watch’ how their kids interact with other kids and talk about what they see and what concerns them.

Between the ages of 1 and 3 most kids don’t share, they whine a lot, they hit their siblings, they bite, they throw toys, they climb in dangerous places, they have tantrums, they say “no” to their parents and on and on!

The more we as parents understand ‘why’ our kids do all these things and what to do about it, the easier it is to cope.

One of my jobs is to help parents see their kids through their child’s eyes.

That means parents some times have to shift gears from their normal instincts, because children don’t see the world the way adults do. Like when your child whines, what comes naturally to a parent is to tell your child to ‘use their words’ or ‘stop whining’.

Telling a child to ‘use their words’ is like telling an English-speaking adult to use their words when they are not speaking Spanish. Kids whine because they don’t have the words, just like an English-speaking adult might not know Spanish words.

So, if your first natural instincts don’t work to change your child’s behavior what should you do instead? Stop telling your child to use their words, turn around and stop whatever interaction you had with your child. Because every time you talk to your child when they whine, they think that whining is one of the ways they keep a relationship going with you.

This will STOP the whining, but will NOT keep it from happening again. In order to CHANGE this whining behavior parents need to talk to their kids more when they are not whining and call their NON-whining voice something like, the “Corwin Voice”. Just plug in your last name where mine is and you are good to go.

Over the next three weeks, these parents and I will try to discover together the secrets to changing their child’s behavior while building a successful relationship with their children. I will keep you updated on our progress and what kind of troubles and successes these families have with their kids while they are in my Toddler Talk group.

Thanks for checking, Dr. Ann