When do children start to *listen*? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 15 Old 05-02-2004, 09:20 PM - Thread Starter
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I've never posted here before, because I didn't know how to word it properly...

my DD is just 17 months old, and I don't have much patience when she does something I tell her not to (for her own safety). You know, I try to tell her *why*, but she is only 17 months old. And I've come to yelling at her quite often. I hate it, because I don't like being like that, and it just makes me more frustrated because she doesn't listen anymore. She just looks at me, doesn't even act shocked. I'm starting to see why people spank (horrible to even consider).

She seems to understand some of the things I say, like,"Can you help me put the laundry in the dryer?", and she will take a handful of clothes and put them in. So when will she understand about not taking things off the table (like knives, glass cups, plates, etc.)???? I just want her to be safe and happy and loved.

I think part of my frustration (and/or her behavior) is because of the fact that I'm pregnant, don't have anymore breastmilk (very minimal, anyway), and I've just moved.

I try to keep things out of her path, but it's so hard to keep that up all the time.

I don't know about any of you moms, but when I was a little girl, I thought I'd be the best mom, ever. . I had infinate love and patience for children and animals. I had two little cousins, which were almost like my little sisters. I feel like I helped raise them. They *always, always, always* listened to me. They seemed to know that I was looking out for their safety, and I wasn't their enemy... even at my DD's age.

So that's where I'm coming from. Hopefully somebody has some words of advice for me.
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#2 of 15 Old 05-02-2004, 10:39 PM
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Hey mama :

My son is the same age, and I really don't think that developmentally they are ready to know safe from unsafe. The whole world is just one big experiment and my guy is a brilliant little scientist. I feel frustrated when I have to chase him down the street for the fifth time in fifteen minutes, but I know at some point he'll *get* it.

I know you 'll get some good replies here.

xo pam
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#3 of 15 Old 05-03-2004, 12:08 AM
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All I can say is that it passes. my daughter is 2.5 and within the past few months has really begun to understand what is dangerous.

For example, my DH was laying on his back looking underneath a chair to see if a screw had come loose. He tilted the chair slighty and Hannah said in a very serious tone "Daddy, don't be dangerous" : (Of course she didn't pronounce it quite like that, LOL)

My best advice would be to prevent all these power struggles you're having by eliminating things that bother you the most. If he's grabbing things off the table while you're setting it, set it once he's in his highchair. If he keeps digging in your plant - move it. If he gets fingerprints on your TV, but you can let that go - then let it go.

I used to be so anal about my house being spotless - until my daughter reached that age. I just had to let things go because I was a wreck all of the time.

Hang in there because it does get easier.

Mom to DD1 reading.gif (11) & DD2 shine.gif homebirth.jpg(7) & DS babyboy.gif  h20homebirth.gif (9/10/12)


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#4 of 15 Old 05-03-2004, 08:46 AM
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Just wanted to agree with the responses you've received: her behavior is as developmentally appropriate for her as it is frustrating for you. And add that much of the problem may be impulse control. She likely understands that you do not want her to do certain things (but probably not the danger aspect), but she just doesn't have the impulse control to stop herself. Those glasses and knives are calling her name!!! That may help explain why she can understand and cooperate with fun things (the laundry), but not with restrictions, kwim?

Erika's absolutely right--it does get easier!!!!
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#5 of 15 Old 05-03-2004, 09:00 AM
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I don't think that, at 17 months, you can truly expect her to listen and change her behavior just because you tell her no. At this age, it's all about distraction and redirection and making her environment as free of "don'ts" as you can.

She is doing exactly what she should be doing at this age - exploring her world and discovering her independence. It will get better, as long as you use a lot of repetition, redirection and patience, patience, patience.

When it comes to using words to teach your daughter what is inappropriate, try to word things as rules, and always use the same wording so after many repetitions, she begins to internalize it. So every time she pulls the cat's tail, for example, you say, "We pet the kitty gently," and take her hand and help her do it correctly. Positive words plus demonstration always seemed to work much better than negative words with my daughter at that age. Think of it this way - rather than trying to teach her what she shouldn't do, you are teaching her what she should do.

Good luck!
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#6 of 15 Old 05-03-2004, 09:42 AM
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I know that Sarah is 20+ months and she is not able to consistently listen yet.....she is also not able to see disaster coming either. She almost stepped off the front stairs yesterday without any clue that she was going to go tumbling down the full flight......I caught her on the fly and she THEN realised what almost happened and cried....

She just does things without thinking it thru......I really dont think she can resist the urges. Sometimes she will point to the dog bowl and make some noise similar to "oops" and if I dont grab it, she will dive right in!! I think the warning is all she can manage.......kinda like, "if you dont get it now, I will not be responsible....."---------I love her for giving me the warning!
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#7 of 15 Old 05-03-2004, 10:25 AM
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I agree with everyone -- they have very little impulse control at this age, and it is too early to expect her to "listen." 2.5-3 years old is closer to when that starts. I also agree about creating a safe "yes" environment for her to explore.

I wanted to add that when you are dealing with a toddler and you want to begin teaching listening skills, you almost always have to expect to be physcically involved. So when you say, "Thats not for babies...." you have to already be on your feet and moving toward her, and then help her to put it down and find something appropriate. Until they are 2-3 years old, you must expect to use *action* along with your words everytime. Unless you are willing to stand up and walk over to her, its not even worth giving direction at this age. It will just teach her to ignore you!! LOL. But I know its easier said than done when you are pg and tired.
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#8 of 15 Old 05-03-2004, 10:36 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank-you for the replies.

I just want to say that I really really want to do GD, and the first few months of her life were perfect for me, because I could take care of all her needs.... she almost *never* cried. Everyone was so impessed. But now, she has tantrums.

I just don't know when to start expecting her to be able to understand what I'm trying to tell her.... Do any of you have an idea of when that will be? 24 months? Or are all babies different?

Another thing that she does that is a GD issue, is hitting. She will hit other babies at the park, LLL meetings, and anywhere else we happen to meet other babies. I think it might be because she wants some attention (even though it's negative)sometimes, but I don't hit her, so I don't know where she got it from. I sure feel embarrassed!!! It's like she's a bully.
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#9 of 15 Old 05-03-2004, 11:20 AM
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You're received wise advice from the others. I just wanted to add that I think it is extremely important that you take care to nurture yourself and keep your frustration level at a minimum by pampering yourself whenever possible - by "pampering" I mean maybe taking a bath (if you can, being preggo and all!) when DD is napping, indulge in a wonderful crappy beach book, paint your nails, etc. I know this is hard but try to do it when you have some down time with DD, it's very important. All of the advice in the world won't help if you are feeling at the end of your rope, the smallest thing can really set you off.

FWIW, I think she can understand you, she just lacks the impulse control ability. Keep your explanations short and sweet ("knives can hurt, here's a spoon you can play with") and redirect, redirect, redirect.

As far as hitting other kids, this is perfectly normal even for children who aren't hit themselves. That's why GD is so important - it teaches parents impulse control so that they can model it for their kids. Show her the correct way to touch other kids (petting their arm for example or hugging if the kid is willing) and you just need to be on top of her during this phase. It is completely normal!
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#10 of 15 Old 05-03-2004, 10:22 PM
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When do children start to *listen*? A word of advice: if listening is the goal, do make an effort to eliminate yelling whenever and however you can. If you're yelling at 17 months, chances are she'll be tuning you out BEFORE her listening skills have a chance to really develop.

17 months is young. You are now just laying the foundation for effective gentle discipline. Do create a "child considered" environment as best you can (keeping no-nos out of reach, etc.) and eliminate dangerous temptations. Do explain *simply* why not, and do be hands on in your discipline (gently guiding her away from the electrical cord rather than just telling her to step away). DS is 3 1/4 and we're still hands on a lot of the time (we actually got a break from it at 2ish for awhile, but since he turned three... ). GD takes time, many gentle repetitions and more patience than I have some days. Alas, I stay the course.

Indeed, other factors like pregnancy and moving can cloud your perspective and make you darned tired! In addition, your daughter is probably feeling not herself as well (changes in nursing, moving, etc.) Give yourselves time to adjust and take as many deep breaths as you need. When I'm tired, nothing feels right and almost everything is much more dire and frustrating than it really is.

Hang in there. So many changes as of late and I imagine once you and your family have adjusted, things will look different.

Em 43 - Wife to hubby Mom to DS born: Jan. '01
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#11 of 15 Old 05-03-2004, 10:38 PM
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Your dd is the same age as mine and this is my third at that and I can tell you at this age she may or may not understand well what you rae saying. My oldest had little to no understanding at this age (turned out ot be language processing problems but since we thought everything she did was perfectly normal we just assumed other children were super smart:LOL seems silly now) my second probably understoiod everything but she is sorta an ubber baby, and Ava has p[retty good understanding.

So after understanding come co-operation. Good luck at this age. If they are in the mood they will co-opoerate, if not then so be it. Probably after two sometime is when I can really expect them to start doing as I ask. Until then you just have to step in and change thier behavior if need be. Eventually they wil get it that certain things you just arn't going to let slide adn they will give up. But at this age the best you can do it help them comply. either by distraction, removing temptation, picking them up and moving them or seperating them while you change what needs to be changed.

this is such a tough stage because they are so sweet and stuff but that budding independance is enough to drive you crazy and yet they really don't know that they are doing anything wrong.

And while yelling at this age may seem to work chances are you aren't getting them to cooperate you are just shocking them into stopping whatever they are doing or dropping wehat they are holding. it really isn't getting them to comply. It is distraction mainly and there are of course much easier ways to distract. On the other hand if you are just so frustrated you need to let out a bellow you are certainly entitled.

The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it.  We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.

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#12 of 15 Old 05-03-2004, 11:37 PM
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I think others have said this, but I wanted to bring one important piece of advice out. If you want her to be a good listener as she gets older, try to use a calm voice and IMMEDIATELY get up and move/distract/etc. I am sure that is hard being you are very pregnant! But if you want her to listen to you the 1st time you ask when she is 2 or 3, then you need to help her follow thru with your directions right now when she is still a baby.
I learned this the hard way, but luckily I caught on pretty quickly to the "say what you mean and mean what you say"- it is so important.
So if she goes to grab something off the table, drop what you are doing and rush over there- I'd wait till you get there to say no, and then *as* you are saying "Not for Haeven. That will hurt you" or whatever, also be prying her fingers off of it.
Good luck! This really will get better!
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#13 of 15 Old 05-05-2004, 05:12 PM
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You've gotten some good advice.

Your question "When do children start to listen?" isn't quite what you meant (I think). It's more "When do children realize that I am saying this for their best interest?"

Goo understood what we were saying at an early age. She follows simple requests quite well, but she doesn't yet make the connection between danger and items that cause danger. We just work slowly and patiently with her and do things like the PP said "Goo, we don't touch knives yet. They can give Goo a boo-boo. Mommy's taking the knife now. Would you like a spoon or fork instead?"

Deep breath. It is HARD to be pregnant and have patience...
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#14 of 15 Old 05-08-2004, 09:43 AM
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my dd is 20 months and we baby proof her until she doesn't need it anymore (she still needs it)

while I cook, she can play with water in the sink. I set the table, but everything is in the middle until we sit down. You know? and personally, I'd say around 2.5-3 years old, they will start to comprehend about such things, but not until 3-4 can they be "trusted" alone (for example to not take knives off the table because we need to eat with them later.) But every kid is different.

when your child does something that causes you to jump up and grab it out of her hands or pull her off a shelf, just think to yourself, "wow, I am so happy that my dd is so inquisitive and carefree.....I will strive to be more like her" then of course take the steak knife out of her hand and give her a wooden spoon to play with!

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#15 of 15 Old 05-08-2004, 02:06 PM - Thread Starter
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My daughter was 34 inches tall at her last check-up, so she can reach about 4 inches onto the *counter*, not just the table, which is lower to the ground. She has grabbed huge knives off of the counter. I should mention, that I haven't been living alone. There was also my brother, his partner, and their same age baby. As well as my mom, all living under the same roof. I was very hard to keep up with *everyone*. But alas, I live alone now, so I have things the way I want it in my space.

I really appreciate everyones advice. I'm much more patient with her now. I've just had so much stress in my life, and now it's quieted down. I baby-proof as much as I deem neccessary. But I get the feeling sometimes, like leaving something (like a hamper of laundry) on the floor, teaches her about not getting into everything, even if she does have the chance. This morning, she started to take some clothes out the the hamper, and I just reminded her, very gently, that I want those clothes *in* the hamper... so she put them back!! what a smart cookie.

anyways I'm blah ing....
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