Cooperation Begins with Trust

Category Archives: Preschoolers 3-5 yrs

preschool discipline, parenting help, parenting solutions for preschoolers.

How To Get Your Toddler To Listen and Cooperate (Positive Parenting Examples)

How To Get Your Toddler To Listen and Cooperate (Positive Parenting Examples)

Inside: Understand toddler behavior and learn positive ways to encourage cooperation. Examples of how to use positive parenting strategies to get your toddler to listen included.

One very challenging task in the early years of parenting is finding ways to encourage cooperation and listening. You might find yourself wondering how to get your toddler to listen?

Toddlers and pre-schoolers are notorious for saying “NO!” “I can’t” and “I don’t want to!” especially in moments when we would like to hear “yes mama!” and “OK”

Here’s what your toddler needs you to know:

Toddlers and preschoolers don’t mean to be making trouble.

Young children are curious by nature and even defiant by design!

But this is a good thing.

Young children that are curious, confident and energetic grow into resilient, capable beings.

Getting frustrated with growing children is normal.

There is much frustration for both parents and children in this phase of growth. As grown ups it’s easy to forget what it’s like to live in a world that moves really fast and has a lot of rules that make no sense.

Toddlers are discovering their abilities and excercising how to be themselves. Saying NO to you is all about growing. The more you try to control, the less your toddler will cooperate.

“Do as I say” is a recipe for power struggles.

It is so tempting to rush, nag and demand:

  •  “Come on, get that shoe on now. I really mean it. We have to go.”
  • “Will you please, just put your second shoe on sweet darling!”

The great news:

Yelling, bribes, prizes and constant negotiations are usually ineffective towards encouraging cooperation.

There are many positive ways to help your toddler want to listen.

Young children are wired for empathy and cooperation. Especially if you learn to make requests without resorting to using demands.

A new perspective on toddler communication and cooperation

You can’t actually get your toddler to listen. But you can certainly peak their interest and make them feel ready and able to cooperate.

One positive way to encourage cooperation is to shift your perspective and enter into your child’s world.

Have you tried seeing things as your child sees them?

Have you ever made requests from your child’s point of view?

It’s not about manipulating, bribing, or making silly promises you can’t keep.

Simply shifting your perspective, even if slightly, to frame your request with your child’s perspective in mind.  

Children love to feel capable and cooperative, and it takes just a bit of encouragement and patience on your side to shift from defiance and compliance to communication and cooperation.

One sure way of encouraging more cooperation from toddlers and preschoolers is to make your request irresistible.

One morning my four year old wanted to play a game with me, but I was in the middle of baking. I could have said “ Can’t play the game. Go play on your own for now. I have to bake a cheesecake.” But I know my son would have been disappointed.  What’s more, he would have likely found other ways to get my attention, perhaps by bothering one of his siblings.

The solution was to appeal to his point of view.

“Hey, you wanted to play a game right…Want to play smash the cookies? You can do it from this stool and you get to use MY kitchen tools.”

This was irresistible  to my four year old, and it gave me a way to bake and have some time together.

Yes, there are times  where having quick cooperation and respectful compliance is necessary.

It’s alright to have “non negotiable”  requests based on your family values and needs. Some common non negotiable requests are holding hands in the parking lot, crossing a street and taking medicine.

And here is the thing about these “non negotiable” situations.

If you are after more cooperation and tired of demanding,  and yelling, you have nothing to lose by choosing to find ways to work with your child. 

“Either we spend time meeting children’s emotional needs by filling their love cup, or we will spend time dealing with behaviors caused by their unmet needs. Either way, we spend the time.”
Pam Leo

When you work together, instead of against each other, you are teaching your child that they can count on you.

Your bond is strengthend and cooperation becomes part of your family’s way of getting things done.

These questions may help you encourage more cooperation and make your request irresistible:

  • Is there a way to help my child feel more at ease in this situation?
  • Can I ask my child to make a small choice?
  • What if anything does my child get to control about this situation?
  • How can I phrase my request to make it irresistible?

Aim to talk to your child in a way that let’s them know you have their best interest in mind.

It’s not about giving in, pampering or avoiding conflict.

It’s all about showing understanding, care and concern. You can be firm with your limits and at the same time demonstrate kindness towards your child and their feelings.

When we show our children that cooperating with us is somehow relevant to them, automatically they will be much more receptive to listening to you.

It might sound like this:

“When I finish putting away this laundry we can read the book. Are you so excited to find out what is happening in the story? Me too. Hey, want to put these towels in the bath closet so things go faster and we find out?”

Encouraging your toddler or preschooler to cooperate and listen to your requests often just starts with you being willing to see things from your child’s perspective. 

Additional Resources for Encouarging Cooperation

35 Phrases for Encouraging Cooperation between Parents and Children

Toddler Misbehavior and Defiance Improves with Positive Discipline

Child Discipline: Patience and Warmth are More Likely to Stop Misbehavior Than Threats and Anger

Peace & Be Well,


How and When Children Develop Emotional Intelligence and Self-Control

How and When Children Develop Emotional Intelligence and Self-Control

Developing emotional intelligence starts in early childhood. Every interaction with parents, caregivers, sibblings and friends gives your child information about their emotional world. Your parenting choices can influence your child’s emotional development. Your child’s emotional awareness and how they handle feelings can impact lifelong happiness and wellbeing.   Growing up healthy goes beyond eating a well-balanced… Continue Reading

The Most Powerful And Punishment Free Way To Better Behavior

The Most Powerful And Punishment Free Way To Better Behavior

Positive Discipline teaches your child’s heart and mind at the same time.  Learn how to change your child’s behavior without using punishments, yelling or bribes.  When my son was four years old, he was sweet, funny and quite mischievous. Just a moment unsupervised and something was likely to get opened, spilled or broken. Most days… Continue Reading

Behavior Changes you Can Expect to see in your Child as you Shelter In Place

Behavior Changes you Can Expect to see in your Child as you Shelter In Place

Sheltering in place can create behavior changes for the whole family. Here you can find information on what you can expect and how you can respond to these behaviors in a helpful and positive way. Quick guide on setting limits included below. With the ongoing pandemic, we are living through very are uncertain times. Routine… Continue Reading

How To Handle Toddler Temper Tantrums and Screaming

How To Handle Toddler Temper Tantrums and Screaming

To stop tantrums it is best to understand why tantrums happen and what really helps your child feel better and calm down.  Most children have tantrums during the toddler years. Tantrums can also happen when children are three or four years old, and even later. Tantrums are actually quite normal and are just expressions of… Continue Reading

Using Time In instead of Time Out for Toddler Misbehavior

Using Time In instead of Time Out for Toddler Misbehavior

Time Out for Toddlers are no longer recommended.  Here is a step by step guide on how to use Time In when disciplining your child.  Your hair fell off mama. I caught it for you. That’s what I heard one morning as I was waking up. Before me, stood my 2.5 year old, scissors in one hand,… Continue Reading

How to Discipline when your Child Tells Tall-Tales, Fibs and Lies

How to Discipline when your Child Tells Tall-Tales, Fibs and Lies

Understanding why children tell lies and how to discipline in a way that fosters honesty and healthy development. “My room was full of flying dragons last night, they knocked over the books, not me!” Children often tell fibs, stretch a tale and blame mysterious creatures for misbehaviour. Lying, is actually a sign of intelligence. While… Continue Reading

5 Powerful Questions For Setting Limits on Your Child’s Behavior

5 Powerful Questions For Setting Limits on Your Child’s Behavior

Inside: Five questions to help you set limits instead of using punishment when your child misbehaves. “I have tried using warnings, time outs and taking my son’s toys away when he acts out, hits his sister and just overall doesn’t listen to me but it doesn’t work. I hear a lot about setting limits but I… Continue Reading

Teaching Your Child How To Calm Down

Teaching Your Child How To Calm Down

Inside: You can be a big influence in your child’s life when it comes to learning how to calm down instead of having fits of anger.  Calming Down isn’t Always Easy For Children. Help your child manage tantrums, anger and frustration and learn self-regulation skills. “Got anything I can smash around here?” asked my daughter with… Continue Reading

Kids Routine Charts and Using Positive Discipline To Make them Work

Kids Routine Charts and Using Positive Discipline To Make them Work

Over the summer, my 9 year old daughter began having trouble falling asleep. “I just can’t sleep!!” she whined (and she really meant it.) After several weeks of trying to talk her out of her insomnia, I decided a new bedtime routine was in order. We brainstormed the steps, and decided to include a short… Continue Reading