How to Get Your Toddler to Listen and Cooperate

If you want to get your toddler to listen and cooperate, it is important to understand more about toddler behavior. Toddlers are well-known to dig their heels in and just say ‘no’ when their moms want them to cooperate. When they don’t have an opportunity to express themselves in positive ways, they will behave in negative ways. 


If you understand that they are just learning about a sense of self, it will change the way you react to them. The fact that they are developing as individuals and wanting to exert control is a good thing. It means they will grow into confident, capable human beings. 


Make requests rather than demands


The toddler stage is one that can be frustrating to both the toddler and the parent. It is easy to forget that the world is full of rules that may not make sense. Expecting your toddler to just do as you say is a recipe for struggle. A child isn’t like a robot programmed to obey. Yelling, empty threats or bribes, even with educational toys and gifts, won’t help you to build a healthy relationship with your child. You need to find ways to communicate that encourage listening. 


If you make requests rather than demands, your child is likely to be much more cooperative. Explain why you want them to do something rather than just commanding them to do it. Instead of saying, “put away your toy cars,” you could rather say ‘your toy cars belong in the red toy box so you can find them when you want to play with them again.” 


Say “yes” more often and “do” rather than “don’t


When your toddler keeps requesting things, it’s easy to just respond with “no, not today,” “no, we don’t have time for that,” or just “no.” When “no” is your constant answer, it’s no wonder your toddler stops listening. Look for reasons to say “yes.” If your toddler is begging for some ice cream, suggest having some for dessert the next day rather than just answering with a “no.” 


Try to do away with the word “don’t.” This tends to cause toddlers to do exactly the opposite of what you want. It’s upsetting to be told what not to do all the time. Rather frame your request in a positive way. Instead of saying, “don’t run on the wet grass,” say, “please stay close to me on the path.”  


Give your child a choice


Children like to have choices because it makes them feel more in control of a situation. When your toddler doesn’t want to put a hat on when going outside to play in the sun, you may resort to shouting, “I am not going to let you play outside if you don’t wear your hat.” You will find yourself dealing with a bawling toddler. Threats and punishment tend to make a child more stubborn than sorry for not cooperating. 


Rather ask your toddler whether he wants to wear the red hat or the green hat when he goes outside to play. This can quickly turn the potential for defiance into compliance. Stick to one or two choices, or your toddler may be overwhelmed. 


Make your request enticing


Try to see things as your toddler sees them. Toddlers actually like to cooperate, but you need to make them feel good about doing what you ask. Giving a toddler an irresistible request can make all the difference. If you’re baking and your toddler wants you to play a game, you shouldn’t just say, “I am busy baking. I can’t play with you right now”. 


Including your toddler in your baking activity will give you an opportunity to have fun together, and you can finish your baking. You can pose a request to your toddler to play a “squish the cookies’ baking game together. For any activity you don’t want your toddler doing, you can distract them with an alternative but similar activity that will be enjoyable for them. 


Identify with their feelings


Identifying with a child’s feelings can help to diffuse a conflict situation and help them to recognize their own emotions. Toddlers will often complain about not being given a turn to play with a specific toy when playing with friends. 


Telling them that this isn’t a reason for them to cry won’t help and sends the message that their feelings don’t matter. Toddlers will often cry because they don’t yet know how to express their emotions. You can give them the words to help them identify their emotions. Try and get them to think about how they could make things fairer. 




Trying to get a toddler to listen is one of the most common frustrations parents experience. Parents of toddlers need to change their perspective and talk to them in ways that make them want to listen. Making requests rather than demands, saying ‘yes’ more often, giving them choices and making them feel good about cooperating is a good start. If you provide positive ways for them to exert and express themselves, they are less likely to behave in negative ways. 

Author Bio:

Charlie Svensson is a fast, engaging freelance writer working as an online assignment help provider for He is highly skilled in content writing and blogging. Some of his favorite topics include career, education, sales and marketing, digital marketing, making money online and self-growth. He has excellent adaptability to cover various topics to reach diverse audiences.