Terrible Twos: One Thing I Do to Make My Crazy Toddler Listen 900% of the Time

This one thing made the terrible twos easier

When I was little, my mom would tell me I never listened.

She said my sister never listened either.

It was the terrible twos!

She was pulling out her hair TRYING to get us to listen.

She tried consequences; Nope!

She tried rewards. Only lasted a few days.

She tried punishment. Not consistent and really doesn’t work.

But, then she tried something simple. And it was effective. So much so, that we turned into little angles. Okay, I’m oversimplifying this, but I totally remember being a sweet little girl growing up 🙂

My little guy is three and I’m having a hard time getting him to listen. He runs, hides, is loud and seems to never EVER listen to me!

When I try to reason with him or try to “teach” him, it never pans out. In one ear and out the other. It wasn’t until my mom came over to visit that she told me her secret.

The one thing that got me and my sisters to listen EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

Terrible Twos: Boys Are Hardwired NOT to Listen

Boys just aren’t “cooked” enough when they are little. They still need to baste and roast for a couple more years (like until they are 15).

They are just not wired to listen and this contributes soo much to the terrible twos. Too many exciting things are around the corner. For my son, it’s a toy in the corner that caught his eye.

Parenting says this about boys and listening:

“Why don’t boys seem to listen? Turns out their hearing is not as good as girls’ right from birth, and this difference only gets greater as kids get older. Girls’ hearing is more sensitive in the frequency range critical to speech discrimination, and the verbal centers in their brains develop more quickly. That means a girl is likely to respond better to discipline strategies such as praise or warnings like “Don’t do that” or “Use your words.””

See? Boys ARE different, moms 🙂

How Do You Get Toddler Boys to Listen?

It turns out what my mom was doing to us as little girls, is the same method that works well for boys in their terrible twos.

It gets them to stop what they are doing, look at you and hear you. They don’t see the distractions anymore and they aren’t running around in circles laughing (ahem…not my son of course ;-).

Parenting goes on to say this:

“Boys tend to be more tactile—they may need to be picked up and plunked in a time-out chair,” Gurian says. They’re also less verbal and more impulsive, he adds, which is especially evident in the toddler and preschool years.”

Ah! You see that trick?

Use a physical touch to get your toddler to listen right away and all the time!

Hands down, as soon as my mom told me this (she also told me to get down to my son’s eye level too) he stopped what he was doing and listened.

I couldn’t believe it.

It worked.

But, would it work again?

The answer is yes! It did.

This Tips Isn’t 100% Conducive to Your Life Though

So, the catch with using this for the terrible twos?

If you are anything like me, I probably give 1,000 instructions to my son in a day. #parentfail right?

There’s no way I can get down at his eye level, or touch his shoulder or pick him up EVERY time I ask him to do something.

But, I’m working on not giving him so many instructions and making the ones I do count.

I also make sure he isn’t playing or running around when I tell him to do something (which is hard since he is a boy and that’s the nature of boys!).

Does This Works for Girls in the Terrible Twos Too?

I say yes it does! Like I mention, my mom used it on us and it worked like a charm.

Tell me what you do to get your little one to listen!

Leave a Reply


I will definitely try this. It seems like we are always saying he never listens. I don’t feel like that’s good for him to constantly hear that either. 1 thing I did find that works is if I start counting..1.. 2…. and he stops and does what I’m telling him. I’ve never got to 3… so he has no idea what will happen. It does work most of the timeReply to Cammy
Yah been doing all ur suggestions! Not working! I have to sound like death metal to get him to stop being bad! He’s mean and bossy ! He’s mean to his younger brother too!Reply to Elisha
Wonder if it works on husband’s ?Reply to Carol
My husband also don’t listen to me .He only listen to my mother in law very irritating both of them 😡 feel like I m a gulaam .Reply to Deepti
Hello, I will have a 2 year old in just 2 more days. He is the only boy of 5 and the baby oldest being 21 has her own 1 yr old and the one above him is 12. So he screams and it is so hard to get him to be quiet but bc we are a family who runs track I say ready set go and he repeats it and forgets he was crying, but my husband started asking him if he was gonna stop crying he would stop and say yes. Oh but the tantrums when he can’t get his cup of milk or a toy are just something I have never dealt with. So getting in his level I have tried but he looks away. How long does this take to kick in lol?Reply to Tiffany
Great tip! So simple!Reply to Sabra
Hi, Cathy! I noticed in one of your other blog posts that this was your first viral post. One of my most popular posts is on the same subject. It is so important to make sure that our kids understand what is being asked of them before we walk away and just expect them to follow through with the task. I like your blog! I’ve nominated you for the Blogger Recognition Award. Check it out: http://www.naturalbornmommy.com/blogger-recognition-award/ – Angela | Natural Born MommyReply to Angela
I love this idea. I don’t have kids yet…but after dealing with my nieces and nephews, I know that getting kids to listen can be a challenge. I’m looking forward to trying this! Wanted to thank you for linking to my free budgeting binder (not sure where you did it on your website…but I’ve gotten a few visits from you, so figured you had to have it somewhere!). Pinned this post so I can remember it next year when I need it (hopefully next year…haha).Reply to Jennie
I made this discovery a year ago or so, and you’re right that it is so effective!Reply to Meg
Love this tip and yes, it works so I’ll be using it more often. I’ve noticed that my 3-year old, whenever she is misbehaving, if I can stop what I’m doing, change my tone, touch her or hold her- she gets it! Need to remember this 🙂Reply to Angelica
Yes! I know, right? It seems like the touch really just get them listening more!Reply to Cathy
I love this!! Getting down to their level is SO key!! Beautiful post mama! XoxoReply to Kristi
Hi Kristi! I don’t this all the time, but I’m working hard to get down at his level when I talk to him!Reply to Cathy
Love your article! (and happy to have discovered your blog!) My favorite is “Boys just aren’t “cooked” enough when they are little. They still need to baste and roast for a couple more years (like until they are 15).” Your writing is awesome and so much fun to read. Thanks for sharing your insights!Reply to Mary
Hi Mary! Ha! Thanks…yeah…little boys need to “cook” more right? Girls at that age are more smarter if you know what I mean! Ha..Reply to Cathy
This is wonderful! I love all your research 😉Reply to Kandice
Hi Kandice, Thanks so much!Reply to Cathy
Great tip! I think it pays when we slow down to get the message across!Reply to Tara
I’ve been using this method with my boys and it’s helped a ton!Reply to Nina
Hi Nina, Good to know. Yes, it’s working great with my little rambunctious son. His behaivor has turned around 100% I can’t believe it!Reply to Cathy
I love passed on Mom to Daughter secrets! And this is a good one!Reply to Shannon