Toddler Not Listening? Five Reasons Why And What You Can Do About It


Are you struggling to get your toddler to listen to you? Learn the five common reasons why your toddler isn’t listening to you, and find out what you can do about it!

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Is your toddler not listening? If so, read more to learn why and to find out what you can do about it!

Brilliant advice on how to get your toddler to listen!

As moms, we all know how irritating it can be to repeat yourself for the 15th time in an attempt to get your toddler to listen to you. 

Toddlerhood (is that even a word?) is probably one of the most challenging phases of your little one’s development. 

Especially when you’re the parent. 

This isn’t to downplay all of the tough social and cognitive developmental milestones that they’re facing.

However, the moment they realize that they have their own will outside of yours, you should begin to brace yourself for full-blown, sour-patch kid moments.

Thankfully, it’s not all bad. 

So you may be wondering, is it normal for 3 year olds not to listen?

Believe it or not, toddlers tend to take in a lot more information than they may lead on.

My rule of thumb is, once it is clear that they are able to discern that an action is undesirable, it’s the perfect time to begin to redirect their behavior.

One main challenge many parents face when teaching their toddlers what is acceptable and unacceptable is that it seems that their toddlers simply won’t listen.

If this sounds like you, don’t worry, you’re not alone!

Keep reading to learn five reasons that your toddler isn’t listening to you, and find out what you can do about it.

You Aren’t Consistent

First and foremost, if you want your toddler to listen to you, consistency is key!

Being consistent is more than shouting the same request over and over, but it’s also important to be consistent in all aspects related to the undesired behavior. 

It’s important to be consistent in

1. Tone,

2. Addressing the behavior

3. Consequences

It’s crucial, especially at this age, that toddlers know what to expect from their parents.

If one day you’re calm and the next day you’re yelling – you’re toddler is likely confused, not knowing what type of response to expect from you. 

So how do you discipline a toddler who doesn’t listen?

For starters, consequences should be the same for each ‘offense’.

If you utilize time-out, then be sure that you utilize it every time

Every parent has different preferences and what works for one kid, may not work for the other. However, if you only acknowledge the undesired behavior some of the time, your little one may not understand why they’re in trouble today for doing the same thing that you seemingly overlooked yesterday.

Similarly, using a less significant consequence for the same offense will definitely confuse your little one.

So whatever method of discipline you decide to utilize, be sure to be consistent. Need more guidance on this topic? Check out this list of parenting books that every mom should read!

Your Toddler is Distracted

I’ve learned (the hard way) that if my son is distracted in any way, he won’t listen to a word I say. 

I’ll admit that this was frustrating in the beginning. 

However, I had to learn that a toddler’s attention span is realllly short. 

Besides, from their perspective, there’s so much to see and do!

Instead, when I notice that my son is distracted while I’m trying to redirect his behavior, I simply remove the distraction.

For example, my son pretty much blocks out everything that I say while the TV is on.

I either mute the TV or turn it off completely if I need his attention immediately. Sometimes it’s necessary to go completely screen-free. Here are a few sensory activities that can help with that!

That way, I have his undivided attention, and can effectively communicate with him.

Your Toddler is Overtired

In addition to being distracted, sometimes toddlers are simply overtired. 

Attempting to redirect an overtired toddler is a recipe for chaos!

In addition to being extremely irritable, some toddlers that are overtired can become overly hyper.

Needless to say, getting them to actually listen to anything you say during this time will be tough. 

It’s a lot more difficult for toddlers to regulate their emotions when they’re overtired, and you can bet that listening to you isn’t high on their list of priorities.

Instead, this is the perfect time for some quiet time – and maybe even a nap!

If you’re struggling to get your little one to sleep, check out these awesome gentle sleep training techniques.

Brilliant advice on how to get your toddler to listen!

You Aren’t Specific

Let’s say that your little one has gotten into the climbing phase (my life currently), and their new favorite pastime is climbing on the furniture.

Obviously, you want them to stop climbing on the furniture so that they don’t accidentally fall and hurt themselves right? 


So you say, ‘Stop that’ or ‘Get down’. 

Initially, your toddler may climb down just as you asked. 

However, you can be sure that they’ll be climbing again as soon as you turn away. 

Why is this?

You weren’t specific. 

The commands ‘stop that’ and ‘get down’ caused them to do just that.

Meanwhile, they have no idea that what you really wanted was for them to stop climbing on the furniture. 

Don’t forget, your little ones can understand way more than they let on.

Just be sure that you meet them where they are!

So before you get ready to put them in time out, switch up your commands, and be more specific.

You Forget to Praise the Desired Response

In addition to being specific, don’t forget to praise your kiddo for actually listening and doing what you asked of them. 

This is a HUGE step that many parents miss.

There’s nothing a kid loves more than making mom and dad proud!

To revisit our example above, once you’ve asked your toddler to stop climbing on the furniture, and they actually are compliant, that’s the time to lay on the praise!

Be sure that you thank them for not climbing on the furniture, and let them know that you are proud of them for listening!

This lets them know that you like what they just did, and they’re more likely to repeat the desired behavior in the future.

More specifically, in this example, your little one will be more reluctant to climb on the furniture since you’ve let them know that you are proud of them for not climbing on it.

There you have it!

Although following each of these tips won’t guarantee that your little one will listen every single time, they’ll definitely help cut down on the number of times that you have to repeat yourself. 

Got a stubborn toddler on your hands?

Check out my post about how to successfully parent a strong-willed toddler.

What other tips and tricks do you use to get your little one to listen?

Let me know in the comments!

Brilliant advice on how to get your toddler to listen!
Brilliant parenting advice on how to get your toddler to listen - the first time! Learn the five common reasons why your toddler isn't listening to you, and find out what you can do about it! #RaisingKids #ToddlerHacks #PositiveParenting #ParentingTips #GoodParenting #Kids #GetYourToddlerToListen

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  1. The Cinnamon Mom says:

    Yes, yes, yes! These are all child development concepts that I learned as an educator but have been even more valuable to me as a parent. Bravo to you for making parents aware of how to better understand their little people!

    1. Thank you, Mama!!! I learned sooo much about child development in undergrad and it has been so helpful now that I’m a mom! I’m so glad that you enjoyed it!

  2. This is so good Kermilia! And they are good tips and reminders even for a little bit older kids.

  3. The consistency one! I used to think I was being consistent but often I wasn’t. I read a line in another place that basically said “if you have to repeat a limit more than once, you’re giving too many chances” and that’s when if clicked, asking something again and again is actually not consistent. Today you might ask 3 time’s, tomorrow maybe 5, the next day you’ll lose it after one. I try to not keep repeating myself now and step in before I get mad.

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