When you say: "Shh, quiet!"
You mean We're in the library, and I'm mortified that you're being so loud!
Why your kid doesn't get it Toddlers are still learning to modulate their voice and manage impulse control. "Moreover, social graces -- like knowing when a situation calls for a whisper -- take time for them to internalize," explains Parents advisor Michele Borba, Ed.D., author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions.
Speak toddler Whisper, "Use this voice!" Little kids are natural copycats, so if you show your child how you'd like him to talk, he will likely follow, Dr. Borba notes. Also practice talking in "quiet voices" at home. "It'll make things easier if you allow your kid to transfer the behavior from a secure environment, one-on-one with you, into the real world," Dr. Borba says. Finally, tailor your expectations to where he is developmentally. Expect to whisper reminders and to take him to the lobby frequently the first few times you visit a new quiet-required environment. Ultimately, you'll see a big payoff.
When you say: "Don't be rude!"
You mean Show a little respect for me!
Why your kid doesn't get it As young children discover that their language has power, they begin to be defiant. "Toddlers talk back because they're testing limits," says Jeff Bernstein, Ph.D., a family therapist and author of Liking the Child You Love -- it's one way they begin asserting their independence. So if your child shouts "No!" when you ask her to put away her playthings, it's not because she's trying to be a pain; she just wants some control.
Speak toddler Don't take it personally and snap at your child when she's challenging you -- it's a necessary step toward becoming an adult. "Model the right way of interacting. Calmly say, 'It's not okay to talk to me that way,'" Dr. Bernstein recommends. Next, empower her by offering her some choices. You might say, "Do you want to put away blocks first or books?" Once your kid has some of the control she craves, she's more likely to comply.
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