My son is 17 months old, and he doesnt listen to me! Help!

Lindsey - posted on 05/20/2011 ( 34 moms have responded )

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My son understands the word "no" and "don't touch" but he ignores everything i say. He listens to his dad, but I can't make him listen to me. I spend every minute of the day telling him off for something he shouldn't touch. I end up getting really angry and start shouting at him, even though i don't mean to. Any tips on what i can do?

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Jenni - posted on 05/20/2011

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It's kind of expecting a lot for a 17 month old to listen. They have very little self-control at that age. Even 2-3 year olds lack the self-control that we adults have. It's only going to get harder. ;) I mean that in the best way possible!



But once they hit the 2 year mark they're fighting a battle of self-control AND a fight for independence. They may listen some of the time, or to certain people and of course you factor in their natural disposition... but what it comes down to is; it's all developmentally normal. Toddlers don't like to listen!

Pick and choose your battles. Stress important issues such as safety and respect (ie sharing, hitting, yelling) and don't nit pick.



You'll have an easier time if you encourage positive behaviours instead of punishing the negative ones. You'll have an easier time offering alternatives instead of saying 'no'.



My son is almost 3 and still wants to 'touch' everything. Offer him an alternative that he *can* touch.



Child proof as much as possible! He needs a safe environment to explore... toddlers are naturally curious and experimenting with cause and effect. So make sure breakables are well out of reach.



If you don't... by the time he's 3 yo... you'll have no hair left to pull out. ;)

Maren - posted on 05/26/2011

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It may sound crazy but start putting him in a time out. Tell him no, give him a warning, then give him a time out. One minute for every year of age. I started time outs before my daughter was one (mostly for practice for my husband and myself). It works wonders on her. Sometimes I have to put her into 2 time outs for the same thing (like not picking up) but she always does as she's told in the end.

Make sure you don't talk to him or give him any attention while he's in the time out and don't leave the room. I would sit with my daughter. Make one spot that is the time out spot (definitely not a place where they need to feel comfortable such as a crib and this will introduce a ton more problems, such as sleep issues).

I hope this helps. Good luck.

[deleted account]

It will help to change your expectations of him. His brain is still so young and even adults learn by repetition. The best advice I found was in a book - "How to Raise an Emotionally Intelligent Child" by John Gottman. It really helped me see the right expectations and find replacements for yelling.

Barb - posted on 05/25/2011

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Reading all these responses reminds me of watching myself on home movies when i was around 23 months old. My mother had gotten a toaster oven for Christmas and i wanted to touch it, it was shiny and pretty and needed my little fingerprints all over it.

In the video you see me reaching for it, mom saying 'no' and pushing me back. Well apparently this approach just reinforced that this item MUST be touched!!

It was all out war then, i'd go for it, she'd push me back. I'd sneak behind her back, she'd catch me before i touched it and push me back. Finally it appears i've realized if i came in with the toaster between us i can get to it before she gets to me, and TA DA!! i'm touching the toaster.. to which she picks up my little hand and slaps it and my 23 month old bad ass self starts slapping her back.
Don't hit me! i just won the battle!

So i'm going to go with all the mom's who say "redirect". and to pick your battles. Know that some magazines are going to get ripped, some items are going to get broken. Your child may have to learn some lessons the hard way like we all do and yes, there may be pain involved.

Tammy - posted on 05/24/2011

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MY SON ISEXACTLY THE SAME ,,,MY HEALTH VISITOR SAID ITS JUST A PHASE,,,,,I ACTUALLY THOUGHT HEWAS DEAF COS HIS DAD IS ,,,,,,I FIND THE MORE I SHOUT THE LESS HE LISTENS SO IVE STOPPED SHOUTING AND IF HE SHOUTS AT ME , WHICH HE DOES A LOT , I TALK REAL QUIET AND IT MAKES HIM STOP COS HECANT HEAR WHAT IM SAYING ,,,,VERY INQUISITIVE ,,,,,GOOD LUCK ,,,SOMETIMES I CANT DO ANYTHING AND I FEEL JUST THESAME ,,MY DAY IS JUST SPENT SCREAMIN AT HIM X

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Lori - posted on 05/29/2011

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Toddlers don't have the ability of reasoning like adults do. The fact is that they are still learning how to reason and have self control. All you can so is repeat yourself and in the calmest ways enforce the time out rule

Jessica - posted on 05/25/2011

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Have u tried 'time'outs' yet? We started with our son at around this age and we still do it, and it seems to work :)

Nikki - posted on 05/25/2011

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It's not his fault, he is a toddler. He wants to explore his world. You need to lower your expectations, move stuff you don't want him to touch. Redirect his attention when you don't want him to do something.

[deleted account]

Kids understand instructions that tell them what to do much easier than what not to do. for example- "put your feet on the floor is better than stop climbing on the chair. All they hear is "climb on the chair!". Try rephrasing things...it take work but it's worth it!

Annabel - posted on 05/24/2011

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First of all try to relax a little.... make sure you pick your battles and start off with only trying to get him to do one thing a day and make sure he listens to this and make sure he does that one thing. It may take a while for him to listen to what you are asking him to do but eventually he will understand when you say you not doing it' you mean it and he will accept it. Our son was the same but once I stuck to my guard and stayed calm and look at him direct he understood I meant what I said. Give him attention and look at him direct when asking him to do something you could even reward him for doing what mummy asked... Treat it like a game at first and then start to get a little firmer in your voice and he should get the message that mummy is the boss.

Julie - posted on 05/24/2011

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I realize that there are many ways to handle different situations. The same thing won't work for every kid, every parent, every situation. I certainly don't have all the answers, but here are 2 situations I faced when my daughter was younger. First, in a store that was not very busy. (This would NOT work in a large, bustling situation, but would work when getting ready to leave Grandma's house, or go to the car to leave for somewhere.) I am ready to leave, my daughter had her shoes, jacket, etc. on, but she is currently interested in doing something else. I don't repeatedly call for her to come to me. No "It's time to go to the car now. Let's go." (and then wait for her to come). I would just say, "Rachel, it's time to go now. I'm going to the car." I'd pick up my keys and head to the door. (Of course, in a public place, I wouldn't go so far that she was not in my sight. Just far enough that she knew I was going.) When leaving Grandma's house, I'd keep going out the door to the car. Almost always, she would drop what she was doing and follow me. Of course, your little one is still small enough to simply pick up and carry him out the door, but I think that if he can walk, he is old enough to start using this strategy, at least once in a while. Another thing that worked well for me was to establish "safe zones" that my daughter would go to when I was doing certain things. For instance, I live overseas, and many homes, including mine, do not have hot running water. SO, If I wanted a warm bath, I'd have to boil a kettle of water and carry it from the stove to the bathroom. I showed Rachel where safe spots were to stand in the kitchen and the bedroom while I was carrying the kettle, so I eliminated any chance of her being scalded if any water happened to splash. When I was ready to get the kettle, I'd say, "Rachel, I'm getting the kettle now. Go to safety." She would immediately run to the "safe zone" and stay there until I told her it was safe. This strategy would work for things like moving hot pans from the stove or things like that. Rachel responded to this at 17 months, I think, and it really helped to keep her out from underfoot in situations that could be dangerous. And believe me, I know that a 17 month old LOVES to spend most of his time underfoot.

Christy - posted on 05/23/2011

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I did it right with my first and then forgot with my other three. YIKES! Here's what worked for me. Quit telling your son "No" and "Don't Touch." He understand way more than you give him credit for. Let's say he's headed to play with an outlet. I would tell him by name, "That is going to hurt you, it has electricity. It's not a good thing to play with, let's go find a fun toy!" The situation is then positive and refocused on something appropriate.

He may be doing things to get your attention. He knows how to push your buttons even at his young age. Be sure that you are spending a lot of one on one time with him that is positive and he'll start doing less to push your buttons. They say that a child needs positive attention from mom once every so many minutes according to the child's age. So your son is 17 minutes. He needs positive attention from you every 17 minutes. I know this seems crazy to try to take care of a household, but if you think of it as break time for you from dishes or cleaning to have five minutes of fun with your child, it'll work well.

Make a list of games and activities that are age appropriate for him so when you spend time together neither of you are bored. With so much positive attention and fun activities with mom, he'll listen much better and you won't spend so much time angry!

Being a mom is the hardest job on the planet. You can do it!

Amanda - posted on 05/23/2011

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As their mother you have the best and worst of your baby. You are the most trusted, and so you are the one that will see the most rebellion and boundry pushing. He knows you won't sit back and let him get hurt and he is secure that you love him. Remind yourself that he (usually) isn't being naughty on purpose, but testing boundries and figuring out how things work.

There are some days when my 2 year old and 6 year old are getting into EVERYTHING. I go crazy. I admit, there are some days that I yell. I remind myself that it doesn't help, but I haven't completely mastered my stress release...my mother yelled, and I learned to do the same. What helps for me is to think about how badly I feel when I yell at my children, think about how it really isn't getting anywhere, and remember that the way you handle stressful situations will be learned by him. It gets easier, but in the meantime take mommy time-outs. When you have a time out, make sure he is somewhere safe too, his crib or bedroom maybe. Take nap time to do something for yourself, household chores can be caught up on later - no matter how rough the house looks.

Fran - posted on 05/23/2011

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May be take a step back and understand that the more you talk the less they listen. Pick your battles wisely, wait to say something when you truely have an example to drive your point home. The reason Dad is listened to is he talks less and does not nag to get his point across. I promise this will pass, life has a way of teaching them lessons that we can scream about, they get it when they see it for themselves. So my advice is to only pick the important things to talk about, let the little things go. If he is in danger that is different you must take the reigns there, if it is a food issue leave it alone a room cleaning issue let it go. They will learn to eat whats important and clean up after themselves when they live on their own. Don't sweat the small stuff, he will come to you when it is something he needs wait until he asks you for something and remind him then what you expect from him, That is when you have a captive audience and you can say what you want. Stay cool they grow up!

Angela - posted on 05/23/2011

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Just keep telling him because it is something new to him. He will get soon or later. He are going to have to walk away sometimes then come back.

Roxanne - posted on 05/23/2011

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taught both of my daughters the value of nice hands and have never had to childproof my home because of this. When we go shopping I remind them about having nice hands (holding their hands folded in front of them) and when I see nice hands I compliment them. children love praise and when they start to reach for things I do not approve of I tell them to show me their nice hands. My 2 year old will tell me "NO" as she crosses her hands and stops touching.

Suzanne - posted on 05/23/2011

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i try not to say just no i use phrases like no thank you or not for you try this it is more fun re driection helps alot, puting everything away so thay can't touch works well in theroy but will only work at your own home what hapens when you go to gramas, or a freinds house? you can't expect them to do the same so if you can re drirect and say things like no thank you not for jane they will eventuly make the conection and avoid it and as soon as they hear you say no thank you they will move on no mater where you are be patient

Christi - posted on 05/23/2011

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He sounds pretty usual for a 17 month old. What I tried to do was provide interesting alternatives. My son wanted to get into all the the kitchen cupboards so we emptied one out and that was his cupboard. While I cooked, so did he. That's just an example, but it helps because you don't always have to say no.

BJ - posted on 05/23/2011

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I suggest lowering your voice - get down on your knees and be at his level and let him know that he is doing something that may harm him or that he shouldn't be doing. Get his attention on to something else, even pick him up and move him to another part of the room and get him refocued on something new.
Lots of hugs and letting him know you hear him. He is doing this to get your attention. Stop yelling and whisper, he will listen!

Mary - posted on 05/21/2011

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I have seen this response work many times with my grandson:
Have options in mind in the environment for things that he can do. Say, "We are not going to do/have that now, but here is something you can do/have." Redirect with an even unemotional calm tone and give the child your attention when he makes the other choice. Saves a lot of wear and tare on both of you!

June - posted on 05/21/2011

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He wont understand dont touch and no at 17 months you're expecting too much from him and he wont understand why ur getting angry. Child proof as much as u can

Emily - posted on 05/21/2011

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Not to be mean, but get used to it. They are all about testing their limits & yours! Take mommy time outs & try to explain why you are saying no, especially after they are hurt after You told them not too. Try getting down on their eye level & talking to them. Yelling only teaches them to yell back at You. That is what I am dealing w/ now. It's hard not to yell, but try. It may help You vent but does more harm in the long run.

Emily - posted on 05/21/2011

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Not to be mean, but get used to it. They are all about testing their limits & yours! Take mommy time outs & try to explain why you are saying no, especially after they are hurt after You told them not too. Try getting down on their eye level & talking to them. Yelling only teaches them to yell back at You. That is what I am dealing w/ now. It's hard not to yell, but try. It may help You vent but does more harm in the long run.

Alda - posted on 05/21/2011

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I have 2.5 year old twins and they listen most of the time (if they don't I threaten to call daddy lol). 'Blackmail' also works - 'if you don't come back to the car right now, we won't come back to the park tomorrow' - just be sure to be prepared to carry through. Also, remember, even negative attention is attention. If he does something and he's getting loads of attention from you, why should he stop? It's exactly what he wants. The best thing is to remove him from any dangerous situations and completely ignore him. He'll soon lose interest and see his behaviour is not getting the desired response. Kids are much brighter than we give them credit for lol. Good luck and I hope things get better :-)

Sara - posted on 05/20/2011

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With my 18 month old son if he does anything wrong or touches things he knows he's not allowed to i tell him off and remove him from that areaand let him play again however at this age he likes to test the boundaries with us to see what he can get away with and if these two steps don't work i remove him from the area and make him sit down. . . . he has his trantrum but after this and once he has calmed down i allow him to play again this method has so far worked so far, however there are many other ways and methods that other people use it's just finding the right one for you, others may use a different tone of voice and a cross face that alone can make them upset and realise they are doing wrong and others may tap their hands and say no but whatever happens you should stay firm and constant because if you let them get away with it once then they are more likely to keep trying the boundaries, good luck and i hope this is helpful to you! x

Heather - posted on 05/20/2011

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I have that problem with my 12 year old. I tell him not to do certain things, like egg his younger brother's on, or I have to tell him over and over to do his chores, but his dad (we're divorced) tell's him to do something he does it right away. I was told by his father that the reason he doesn't listen to me is because he doesn't fear me, or think that I am a authoritative figure. I really hope you figure out the way to get your child to listen to you! If you do can you pass it on!?

[deleted account]

Moving things out of his reach/sight, distraction, and redirection are the best discipline methods for this age. Stay firm and consistent and try to fill most of his time w/ things he CAN touch. Also TRY not to yell (advice from a yeller) cuz it does not work. It can 'work' at first, but they tend to get desensitized to yelling and become yellers themselves and trust me... you do NOT want that.

Shanda - posted on 05/20/2011

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My 30 month old twins do the same thing to me. It's almost as if when I tell them to "stop, don't touch that" it means to hurry up and touch it before mommy gets to me. My boys will listen to my husband but for me, they act as if they do not comprehend any instruction that I give. I feel like the mean mom. I hope to read your responses to your question in hopes of some answers for myself! My first two kids were nothing like this and obeyed me, especially if I used a stern voice! I'm at a loss with these wonder-twins!

Angel - posted on 05/20/2011

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I know it's hard (I have an 18 month old) but the calmer you stay the better it will go. When you get frustrated and holler they sense your frustration and respond in kind. I tell my daughter no all day long, I think it is all about pushing boundaries at this age, she knows she isn't supposed to, but she wants to see what I will do. If she does something I have told her not to, she gets two warnings, and if she does it a third I will usually put her in her crib for a few minutes. It is good time for her to realize that there are certain boundaries she can't cross, and it gives me a few minutes to breath and calm down. Either that or I remove her from the situation, if we are inside and she won't stop playing with the garbage lid (I know, totally gross) I take her outside. Sometimes they just need a change of scenery. Hope things get easier for you!!

[deleted account]

One more thought - when he's doing a "no-no" direct him to what he CAN do instead of just saying what he CAN'T do.

[deleted account]

I found that clapping my hands loudly catches his attention better than yelling...and I have DONE my share of yelling.
Sometimes clapping means YAY...sometimes clapping means "PAY ATTENTION TO ME". when he turns to see why I am clapping...I will have a solemn look on my face and shake my head no.
This really comes in handy when an adult is talking and you don't want to interrupt the conversation. I can clap and shoot him "the look" and he will point at his hand, shake his finger and fuss at himself...the way I do.

Jenn - posted on 05/20/2011

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Jennifer is right on with everything she said. Also, quit yelling. That is the fastest way to get a child to stop listening completely! When speaking to him, get down on his level, look him in the eyes and speak in a low even tone.

Stifler's - posted on 05/20/2011

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just put all the things he shouldn't touch out of reach. that's what i've done. because i was always saying NO STOP DON'T TOUCH THAT BLAH BLAH BLAH and it was going nowhere. so i locked the cupboards and put anything i want to keep up high.

Blackwood - posted on 05/20/2011

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This is so normal, at this age, even if they know what you are saying, for them too find out things on thier own, override what you are saying. Everything is still so new and exciting, they just HAVE to find things out on thier own. I'm not saying let them do whatever they want, but you just have too pick and choice you're battles. Otherwise it'll feel like you are always telling them know and they are always upset. Something are okay and they will grow out of them. I had a surround sound system, that no matter how many times I would tell my son no or guide him away or try to get him involved with something else, he went back too it. I unplugged it and just let him have at it, it wasn't hurting him and it made him happy, but if he goes to play with the lamps and unplug them, game over, this is dangerous and he is NOT to touch this. Just decide what is a big deal and what is something that isn't and he will eventually grow out of. Best of luck, trying times are ahead.

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