Talking To Toddlers

Talking to your toddler

If you think back to when you were in school and were first learning a new language, chances are, that you didn’t understand every word that was said to you, but you could get the general gist of the sentence. Well it is the same for your toddler.

Your toddler has a limited vocabulary and will not be able to understand every word you say to them. There fore when talking to your toddler, you should be careful to use words they will understand (especially if you are trying to tell them off).

Logical reasoning with your toddler

Another thing you should be aware of when trying to deal with your toddler’s behaviour is that toddlers are very egocentric. Your toddler’s brain is not developed enough for them to understand other perspectives and points of view so this makes logical reasoning very difficult if not impossible with your toddler.

With this in mind, speaking to your toddler and trying to control your toddler’s behaviour can be very difficult. Therefore non-verbal communication is incredibly important. So if you are trying to show your toddler how their behaviour has made you feel, here are some useful tips so that you can learn to communicate effectively with your toddler.

Non-verbal communication towards your toddler

Non-verbal communication such as stance, facial expressions and tone of voice are vital to effectively communicate with your toddler. Even if someone is speaking a different language, you can generally tell how he or she is feeling by the tone of their voice, the expressions on their face and how they are stood.

Children are very aware of non-verbal communication (especially as they can not always fully understand what you are saying); therefore it is important that you recognize how you come across to your toddler.

Remember: your body language plays a big part in what you are saying to your toddler.

Tone of voice when talking to toddlers

The tone of voice you use when speaking to your toddler is the most power tool you have. Try saying a phrase to yourself in a nice soothing tone, and then say the same phrase in a harsh, angry voice. Changing the tone of your voice will change the message you are trying to put across.

When talking to your toddler you should use a smooth, calm voice as this allows your child to feel safe and able to express themselves. If you are telling a toddler off, you should use a firm voice as this change in tone lets your toddler know that you mean business.

Eye contact when talking with your toddler

Making eye contact is a small but significant part of the non-verbal communication you use when talking to your toddler. Making eye contact shows your toddler that they have your full attention and you are focused on them.

Through making and keeping eye contact with your toddler, you will increase the effectiveness of the message you are giving to your toddler.

Making eye conatct is a great way to get your toddler to listen to you.

Position and posture when talking to toddlers

When you are six foot tall, you can appear scary and intimidating to your toddler (even if you don’t mean to), it is simply the fact that you are towering over them.

Therefore when you are talking to your toddler, you should come down to their level and talk to them. This removes the intimidation factor and your toddler is able to listen to what you are saying without feeling intimidated.

The same rules apply to how you stand. If you have crossed arms, you can come across as closed off or hostile.

When talking to your toddler, you want remove negative body language and you want to appear open and allow your toddler to feel safe to respond to you.

Facial expression and touch when talking to your toddler

Your facial expressions and touching your toddler, for example rubbing their back, smiling and winking all convey one message “I love you”. So even when you are telling your toddler off, it is important to let them know that you still love them and care about them.

An example of non verbal communication when talking to toddlers

Jenny spent all day at her child minders making a picture for her dad. When she comes in, her dad is sat in front of the TV, feet up. When Jenny tells him about the picture, he replies “very nice, well done” whilst barely taking his eyes off the TV long enough to blink.

Jenny’s dad shows no interest in the picture she worked hard on making. He showed her that in many different ways; he didn’t make eye contact, he didn’t go to her level to talk to her, there was no enthusiasm in his tone of voice, his face remained emotionless and he didn’t hug or kiss her.

This example tells Jenny that her dad is not interested in her and what she has done. This will give her a knock to her confidence and overtime will limit the bond between Jenny and her dad.

Remember, when talking to your toddler:

  • Remember to use short, simple words and phrases
  • Stay calm, assertive and focused
  • Keep your non verbal communication in check and understand how you are coming across to your toddler