Praising and Listening Toddler Development

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    “Aren’t parenting strategies obvious?” A mother said the other day. “What you’re telling me to do is praise my children and listen to them – is that it?”

    Put like that it does sound very simple – but why is even praising and listening so hard to do?


    Let me take you back a step or two – or perhaps back a few years. When your child is born you coo and beam and congratulate her when she gives you the smallest smile, or rolls over for the first time, or when you spot those first moments of crawling, and especially when she takes those first wobbly steps. However,
    And then as each skill becomes natural and a habit, you forget to mention it. You don’t keep saying to a three year old “Well done you walked over to me all by yourself!”

    Yet the fact that she received praise from you was as much a motivator as the fact that she wanted to crawl or walk for herself. Children have an innate need for being praised, valued and made to feel a significant human being. And yet by the time they are three or maybe six, most communications from parents to children involve arguing, nagging, telling them off and getting ratty with them. How does this motivate them? Why does this happen?

    Well firstly we have higher expectations of what we want them to do, how we want them to behave and secondly, they begin to develop their own opinions and characteristics and get influenced by outside forces.

    But if you want them to co-operate at home, they still need your praise. What should you be praising them for? Everything which goes in the right direction of co-operate behaviour. And praise specifically. So “Well done Charlie” doesn’t mean very much. It’s better to say “Charlie thanks, you washed your hands even before I reminded you”. And once that becomes a habit, you won’t need to remind or praise Charlie any more for doing that. But you will need to find something else specific to praise.

    And even if you praised your child 20 or 30 times a day, and didn’t have any other tools up your sleeve, it would make a difference. There are many other tools, but I am only highlighting two here. So as well as praising, combine it with another important one, which is listening.


    Listening means giving your child attention, (putting away your mobile), looking him in the eyes and makinge sure your body language is positive.

    Then listen without rescuing him, resolving the problem, judging or even giving your opinion. J. Just listen out for emotions and describe back what he’s saying. –
    “You’re upset with your teacher because she didn’t choose you”
    or “You’re so angry with your friend Sam,Sam; right now you never want to talk to him again”

    And and then be silent!. Yes, be silent so that he can work out for himself what he wants to do next. Because they want to work it out for themselves and by doing so, you are giving them an enormous life skill called problem solving.

    These are not the only parenting tools of course, but even if you just take these on board, you will have more co-operative, calmer and more confident children. What have you got to lose?

    For more Information:

    Bebe Jacobs Parent Coach
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