Getting toddlers to follow directions

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Getting toddlers to follow directions

A big question that I get, How do I get my child to follow my directions, to do what I say? Toddlers have a lot of ideas in their head and what we want to do is try to put our ideas into their heads from time to time. So they might be playing with something and you need them to move to get out the door, so give them a little bag to carry. Say, it's time to go. Can you carry this bag and put it in the car? Where does it go? And you get to the car. They're thinking jump in the front seat and drive the car. You're thinking, I need to get him in the carseat. So as I open the door I say, do you want to climb into the car seat or do you want me to put you in? Sometimes I'll say to them, as soon as you're sitting down I can hand you your little truck. Do you want the blue truck or the red truck? Of course, they're reaching for both trucks as you easily put them into the carseat. Think about asking them questions. That will get them moving. I remember once I said to my nephew, it's time to take your bath. And he gave me this really mean look and goes, raaaah, and started to cry. I'm like, do you want to practice pouring with your pouring cups? He looked at me like, wait a minute. I want to do that. He rushed up to the bathroom before I could even get there myself. So a lot of times, again, we're trying to get them to think it's their own idea. So one of my biggest suggestions is ask questions. Give them a job to do to help move them to the next page.

See Donna Holloran, MSW's video on Getting toddlers to follow directions...


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Donna Holloran, MSW

Parent Educator

Donna Holloran moved to Los Angeles from Indianapolis in 1984 to pursue her graduate education and to continue building on her passion---working with young children and their families.  After attaining her MSW from UCLA, Donna also received a Certification in Infant Mental Health.  She practices as a parent educator and child development specialist. In 1996, Donna founded Babygroup in Santa Monica, California.

Babygroup provides guidance and insight to parents of infants and young children in small, intimate parent-child groups, inspiring parents to recognize and respond appropriately to their child’s developmental needs. Babygroup is also about developing strong friendships for parents and children, resulting in a true community of support.

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