Why won’t my child listen?

Janet Cater is a woman with a wealth of experience with children: A mother, a grandmother and a career spanning over 40 years teaching, lecturing and consulting on early childhood and child development. She can also add best selling author of Why won’t my child listen? to her impressive CV.

Janet has helped thousands of parents with issues and concerns with their toddlers. Which is why I booked myself on her toddler taming parenting course in Brookvale, NSW held in partnership with Babes with Babes Fitness.

My 20 month old has started playing up a bedtime. The terrible twos’ have come early with a series of delay tactics – crying for ‘book’ or ‘milk’ once I have put her down. This is followed by an attention grabbing display to get me back into her room which involves taking off her pjamas and nappy and throwing all her toys out of her cot. Very frustrating as the putting to bed routine starts at 7.15 in my house and isn’t finishing till 8.30/9pm at the moment.

Session 1

In the first session, one of three, Janet provided a good overview of what not to do.  As I sat there listening, I started to severely doubt my mothering skills: I say ‘No’ a lot and ‘Don’t’ a lot, I bribe…all big ‘no nos’ in Janet’s book. Perhaps that’s where I have been going wrong. Is it my fault I have a terrible toddler…

According to Janet it is but the good news is that you can unteach bad behaviour. Phew. So now onto the pearls of wisdom. Some of which felt like common sense: don’t overstretch your toddler, stay calm, look for triggers which set them off and try to avoid.

But some, I have started to put into practice and I can already see the results: Tell them what we want them to do, not want we don’t want them to do. So instead of ‘Don’t ride the scooter near the road’, you say “Mummy would like you to stop at the end of the pavement’. You may think as I did, that this is just semantics but the reasoning behing it is that children don’t hear the don’t so ‘Don’t climb!’ is interpreted as ‘Climb!’ etc.  It’s all about getting them to remember the rules not telling them off when they do something wrong.

Power of song to make children listen

Janet also discussed the power of song in order to make children listen.  When children are engrossed in an activity they are using their left side of the brain so are actually not engaged in listening to you. So you may say, ‘bathtime’ ten times and get no response but if you sing it: “la la la, mummy says it’s bathtime, la la la”, then it switches their thoughts to the right side of the brain and so they listen and respond more quickly. Biology was not my strong point but I like the logic in this. I also like the logic of Janet’s advice: Count to 15 after giving a order before you give it again as it takes a child that long to compute what you are saying.

Now to my question. I must admit I was hoping for a quick fix solution. Again the advice wasn’t anything I didn’t know but until someone points it out, you don’t really see out of your box. Janet gave me a few pointers like cutting the afternoon sleep back – please no – I need a break too; cutting out stimulation at  bedtime i.e. no TV – please no – when do I tidy the kitchen, the house, prepare our dinner; putting Gabriella to bed before Daddy comes home – husband says please no to this one. So the tactic I am trying this week is leaving the bedroom door open. Day three and it seems to be working in terms of  stopping the crying but the nappy is still coming off, the toys are still out of the cot and the chatter continues till 9pm.

Maybe next week we will have to say goodbye to Igglepiggle and hello to gaffer tape!


There are two more of Janet’s parenting workshops running on November 4th and November 19th. To book contact info@babesfitness.com.au