How do I get my toddler to listen without yelling? Behavior & Discipline

No mom wants to be a "yeller," but it can be frustrating and exhausting trying to communicate to a toddler who won't seem to listen. Learn how an expert and other moms recommend handling yelling -- or not yelling.

Use a Calm Voice, Except in Emergency

"There is no need to yell unless it's an emergency -- for example, your toddler is running across the street or parking lot. Use a happy, quiet tone of voice when your toddler is listening and a stern and serious voice when your toddler is misbehaving." -- Elena Mikalsen, PhD, Mikalsen Psychological Services, San Antonio, TX

expert solution

Yelling Isn't Worth the Extra Effort

"It's much more effective to get face-to-face with the offender and talk in a quiet but firm voice. It's taken me years to get to this point, but my home is much quieter and calmer."

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Every Kid Is Different

"I try to go with what works for my daughter. I do try not to yell, but sometimes it's the only way she hears me."

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Don't Feel Guilty

"Most of the time I talk calmly to my daughter and it often works, but sometimes you just have to raise your voice to get their attention. No reason to feel bad about that at all."

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Yelling Makes It Worse

"I've found that the calmer I am, the better behaved my child is. Start looking for a way to release your frustration before you start yelling. Once you start yelling, you've lost the battle for control of the situation.

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It's Normal to Yell Sometimes

"We love our children and we try not to yell too much -- but to never yell out of frustration or anger is just impossible."

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Give Both of You Some Space

"I have turned into a yeller, but I'm working on it. I've started putting my daughter in her room to throw her tantrums and I let her out when we've both calmed down."

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Try Whispering

"I yell sometimes, but only enough to get my oldest daughter's attention. After I know she's paying attention to me, I've found that being very quiet, almost whispering, seems to have a better effect than yelling."

expert solution

The advice on CafeMom aims to educate, inform, and provide a range of solutions to the issues moms care about. It is not a substitute for consultation with a medical professional or treatment for a specific condition. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem without consulting a qualified professional. Please contact your health-care provider with questions and concerns.