20 Phrases to Use When Your Toddler Doesn’t Listen

20 Phrases to Use When Your Toddler Doesn’t Listen

When kids become toddlers, life gets more difficult. Toddler’s emotions are intense. They feel tired from the demands. Tantrums never stop. Parenting a toddler can be wonderful but also challenging.

A common frustration for parents is getting toddlers to listen. Their huge energy and curiosity make them ignore some instructions, even if unintentionally.

When toddlers misbehave, it’s natural to feel frustrated. But before reacting angrily, ask what’s bothering them and how you can help. This shows you care about their feelings. It makes them more open to listening when you guide them.

When your toddler ignores you, try saying these 20 phrases to get their attention and let them know you understand their feelings.

1. “First We Listen, Then We Play.”

Tell your toddler that listening needs to come before fun activities. This sets up an order of operations, teaching them responsibility and prioritization.

2. “I Love You and I Know You Can Listen.”

First, express affection. Then gently remind them that listening shows respect for others. This communicates why paying attention matters.

3. “How Can We Fix This Together?”

Asking your toddler to help find solutions makes them feel involved and valued. It presents listening as necessary for happiness.

4. “Use Your Listening Ears!”

Add playfulness about their “ears” to capture toddler attention. This positively presents listening as interesting and fun.

5. “I hear you’re upset. Let’s talk about it.”

By recognizing their emotions, you’re letting them know you understand. This makes it easier for them to share what’s on their mind.

6. “I’ll wait until you’re ready to listen.”

Taking a moment helps them gather their thoughts. It also teaches them that communication happens when both people are ready.

7. “I see you’re busy. When you’re ready, let’s talk.”

Respecting their activities is important. Saying this lets them know you’re patient and willing to talk whenever they’re ready.

8. “Use Your Words Please.”

Encouraging toddlers to speak up expresses feelings and needs. Verbalization promotes communication abilities.

9. “What Happens If You Don’t Listen?”

Asking about the outcomes of not listening builds responsibility. It makes them consider the results of their actions.

10. “Would you like my help or to do it yourself?”

Giving a choice makes kids happier to comply rather than forcing them. Kids generally respond much better when they feel in control.

11. “Please talk softly.”

We have to remember every child has a different natural loudness level. Expecting a noisy toddler to suddenly talk softly often backfires. Instead of using – be quiet or stop making noises, say please talk softly indoors.

12. “We can leave now or in 10 more minutes.”

Help toddlers by giving them a heads-up and a bit of control during changes. Nobody enjoys sudden commands. By offering choices ahead of time, you can make things smoother. Being consistent after setting limits creates reliability. Use positive language to set expectations and encourage cooperation.

13. Remember to be respectful of yourself and others too.”

Specify wanted behaviors instead of unclear messages. Have them repeat.

14. “Let’s take a deep breath and start fresh.”

This phrase works wonders in diffusing tense situations and giving your toddler a fresh start. Let’s take a moment to start fresh. How about expressing ourselves calmly instead of raising our voices to them?

15. “I love you no matter what and I’m here to help.”

Guide with love and support, correct behavior positively, and meet their need for connection. Balance care and rules for their best emotional growth.

16. “Thank you for your patience.”

This expression not only acknowledges but also appreciates your child’s positive behavior, reinforcing it in the process. For instance, “Thank you for your patience as we wait in line.”

17. “How are you feeling?”

Steer away from commanding statements like Chill out; you don’t need to get so upset! Instead, encourage open communication by saying, “I can see you’re upset, what are you feeling?”

Encouraging children to identify and express their emotions is a crucial aspect of positive parenting. When kids become comfortable acknowledging and communicating their feelings, it often leads to more respectful behaviors.

18. “I am proud of you for trying your best.”

This phrase reinforces your child’s positive behavior and the effort they put in, rather than solely focusing on the end result. For instance, you might say, “I’m proud of you for trying your best, even though you didn’t win the game.”

19. “It’s okay to cry.”

Say to your toddlers “It’s okay to feel sad; I’ll be right here if you need me. Kids grow when we don’t push them to suppress their emotions or rush through them. 

20. “Let’s take a break and come back to it later.”

This phrase proves valuable in easing tense moments and offering your child an opportunity to regain composure. For instance, you might say, “How about we pause and come back to this puzzle later when we’re feeling more relaxed?”

Tips to Encourage Your Toddler to Listen

Here are 10 tips to Encourage Your Toddler to Listen

1. Say their name – Sometimes, simply saying their name clearly and directly can effectively grab your toddler’s attention.

2. Set clear limits, and be consistent – Define rules for your toddler that they can easily understand. Similarly, sticking to those same limits consistently is key for observation.

3. Use short, clear statements – Help your toddler learn requests by using simple, direct phrases.

4. Give advance verbal warnings before transitions – If you’d like your toddler to stop an activity to listen, give them a clear warning for when it will end. This prepares them emotionally and gives them time to refocus on you.

5. Give them eye contact – Try getting at your toddler’s eye level while speaking to ensure full focus. Looking them in the eyes while communicating teaches that listening shows respect.

6. Model good listening – Toddlers learn from your real-time examples of respectful attention. Make sure to express gratitude when they are engaged listeners.

7. Talk in a sing-song voice – Soften your volume or add melody to capture toddler’s attention and get them to concentrate on your words.

8. Lighten the mood – If struggling with a specific activity, make it more fun by racing or using a reward chart.

9. Get down on their level – Crouching to be eye-to-eye helps connect better with your toddler when guiding them.

10. Praise listening skills – Commend good listening with positive attention. This reinforces it by showing you value the behavior.

Avoid These 3 Responses When Your Toddler Doesn’t Listen

When your little one doesn’t listen, avoid these three things –

1. No, criticizing – Using a negative tone or criticizing can make them tune out or get upset. Use a firm yet friendly tone to get your point across.

2. Don’t order, beg, or ask – Toddlers often resist when ordered or begged. Instead, be firm, and tell them what to do with positive reinforcement for cooperation and a consequence for not listening.

3. Don’t use Dont – Instead of saying “Don’t run”, try to say “Use your walking feet”. Use positive phrases like “make good choices” instead of “don’t do that.” 


Good toddler parenting means helping them grow and having a positive relationship. Set clear rules so they understand expectations. Explain the reasons behind the rules.

Help them recognize and manage their feelings. Let them do things on their own and give clear instructions to help them learn and become more independent. With the right mix of caring leadership, toddlers gain what they need to grow rightly.

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