21 answers

How to Teach a Toddler to STOP

I have a VERY active/handful of a toddler. He is 2 1/2 and never slows down except to sleep at night. My problem is that when he is running around and I ask him to STOP he doesn't listen. He listen to me most the time when he's not running around. My problem is usually when I'm asking him to STOP it's to prevent him from getting in trouble or hurt. Like for example if we are playing outside and he starts getting near to the street I ask him to STOP and he doesn't listen and then he's in the street and I have to hurry and catch him before a car does. We've tried time outs for not listening, my husband has even tried scaring him. Nothing seems to work. Does anyone have any suggestions? I'm scared I'm not going to catch him one day and he's going to get really hurt.

1 mom found this helpful

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If my Toddler-girl doesn't listen I have to get down to eye level with her, ask for "eyes & ears, please" and explain is simple terms, "it's mommy's job to keep you safe, when you run away and don't listen to mommy it scares me". Then I have to add what we are doing, what is expected of her, the why and the how of what we're doing. I almost speak in cave-man talk so it's easier for her to understand.

I think that engaging scare tactics, yelling, etc. only serves to escalate the situation. Have you considered that his behavior is related to adjustment with a new little sister?

Good luck and good mommin'!

1 mom found this helpful

My son ran out towards a busy street one time and i paniked and just grabed him and spanked his but really hard a couple of times, and he never ran out in the street again. he was about 2 or 3 at the time. i also reiterate that cars cant see you. you are not tall enough yet. he is now five and does pretty good. good luck.

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If my Toddler-girl doesn't listen I have to get down to eye level with her, ask for "eyes & ears, please" and explain is simple terms, "it's mommy's job to keep you safe, when you run away and don't listen to mommy it scares me". Then I have to add what we are doing, what is expected of her, the why and the how of what we're doing. I almost speak in cave-man talk so it's easier for her to understand.

I think that engaging scare tactics, yelling, etc. only serves to escalate the situation. Have you considered that his behavior is related to adjustment with a new little sister?

Good luck and good mommin'!

1 mom found this helpful

My rule is you never teach counting to three, as they become desensitized and when it is urgent they are waiting for you to count!! That is wrong on so many levels so not sure if you count, but don't. Alethea's word "FREEZE" Is great, it isn't stop or no, but something they que that makes your request VERY IMPORTANT. All the boys I watch know this word when we are outside. They are to freeze!

Second, tell him once, then if he doesn't listen, pick him up and remove him immdediately. If you are outside, ask him to stay away from the street, if he doesn't listen, take him inside immediately explaining he HAS to listen to you at all times.
If you go somewhere, confine him to a stroller or shopping cart telling him that he doesn't listen and when he starts staying with mommy you will allow him more freedom. Make him earn it.
It took my son a while as he wanted to walk with me at the grocery. Trial and error and him being put back in the cart several trips now he will stay with me, I keep him occupied with helping me put in apples and pick out stuff, but he stays with me. If he walks away even just once, he is back to the cart!

Be very firm, consistent and don't assume time outs don't work, it takes a while before he gets he will be punished. Time outs don't work overnight. the best thing is to immediately stop the activity.

Don't wait until he is in the street, tell him once and then get him away from the street or tell him he isn't allowed to play outside if there is a street because he is CHOOSING not to listen.

When he gets he has to listen, then explain how badly a car can hurt him, explain there are strangers out there and him running off is not okay, be honest, even blunt. Both of my kids know exactely why I have rules like this.
They get crazy inside and someone always gets hurt, at their age 4 and 7, my typical response is caring they got hurt but also reminding them why I tell them to calm down inside!!! Takes a few times and they got it! :) Hang in there.

1 mom found this helpful

Hey L.,

Play practicing at home is how I got my toddler to listen! We played Red Light Green Light at home and just had lots of fun with it. Now whenever I want her to Stop I say "Red Light" and she knows it's time to Stop and not go again until Mom says "green Light" It also helps that she thinks it's a game and not yet another rule her mom is telling her to do!

Good Luck!

I have a very active 2.5 year old too and can sympathize with you on this one.

We have taught our son the "Red Light, Green Light" game to help him stopping in situations like what you are talking about. This does seem to work most of the time because it is now a game for him and not mommy and daddy telling him to stop. After we "Red Light" him we have a few seconds to get over to him and redirect him.

Good luck and take care!

L.,

Whenever you use the word STOP because of impending danger make it very clear what the danger was. Refrain from using the word STOP all the time. This word get to be totally associated with impending danger. On other occasions use words like "don't do that", "slow down", "Wait a minute".

If your son still doesn't realize what the word STOP means,
you may want to get some professional help to keep him safe.

Wishing you a safe New Year,
C.

I hear you, sister. This takes practice and consistency. Here are a few things that have worked for my family:
I often say to my boys (ages six and three) "I need you to look at me so I know you're listening," before I give instructions and that helps quite a bit.
You could also practice by playing "Red Light, Green Light" in the safety of your living room, maybe with a little prize for listening--but I think this would backfire if it got punitive, as in "Oh, no, you can't have the toy because you didn't listen. Too bad." You want him to listen and repsond, not resent the idea of listening or tune you out because it all seems like nagging. Playing listening games is good for school preparations since it's a developmental milestone to be able to follow multiple-part instructions, such as, "I need you to get your shoes, get your coat, and meet me by the car." Your boy is still growing into that, but you get the idea.
My boys also respond when I wait for the response instead of continuing to shout "Stop! Stop! Stop!" (I realized that if I keep saying it, I am teaching them they don't have to respond the first time because the request keeps coming.)That doesn't apply to some dangerous situations, but if they are running around like nuts in the kitchen I usually make a clear request and then follow through. We do have a rule: "Always stay close in parking lots," and I think that's helped a lot, especially now that I have three kids and cannot hold onto everyone. I think it's helpful to give directions in positive terms, since toddlers are literal thinkers. Saying "Please walk slowly with me," is more effective than saying "Don't run! Don't run! I said, stop running!" All the kid hears is "run! run! running!"

I really, *really* recommend the book "How to Talk so Kids will LIsten and Listen so Kids will Talk." It seriously changed my life. I am not mad all the time or yelling the same things that don't get any response. It's been out for awhile, so you could find it cheap online, like at www.amazon.com or www.powells.com or even at the public library.
Best wishes and congrats on your growing family!

You could turn it into a game. I read about a woman who did this with her children: She would periodically call out "Freeze!" and everyone (herself included) would have to stop whatever they were doing and hold perfectly still. Whoever was the stillest won the game. Anyway, it made it fun for the child in question, and they always stopped when she said "freeze." Maybe you little boy would respond better if you make it like a game - it could teach him to hold still long enough for you to get him out of danger.

Hey L.,

I can understadn that you're having difficulty. Try using the word Freeze rather than stop. Kids hear stop so often that sometimes they tend to ignore it. If you try playing a game at home using the word freeze to illistrate its importance it may help.

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