Toddlers have a mind of their own, and it can get them into trouble. One of the first things we need to teach a toddler once they are walking is to STOP. Teaching them to stop is a safety issue which then supports teaching them to obey.
Teaching a toddler anything takes time so when you want to teach them to ‘stop’ on your voice command, you need to put aside time every day to teach and practice.
- Have them walking away from you but be right there with them so when you say ‘stop’ you can put your hands on their shoulders and make them stop. You then praise them for stopping! Make this a game, keep it light, but make sure your praise is sincere as it is a real skill you are teaching.
- When you practice this often enough, they will start to pre-empt your hands on their shoulders. At this stage, step back a bit, giving them an opportunity to stop without your immediate intervention, and yet be close enough (say a step away) to make them stop if they don’t do it on their own. Once again, praise them for stopping (yes, even though you made them stop!)
- After a while, you will be able to keep a little further away from them but always get to them quickly and ensure they stop, if they don’t.
- Once they are stopping, then you can have them running around and you practice calling out ‘stop’. Call it the – Stop game!
Work on whatever stage you are at a couple of times throughout the day. It will take time, you won’t go from the first step to the last step in one day – all training takes time. You are teaching them the action that is necessary with the instruction. When they are learning, there are no ‘consequences’ if they don’t stop, because you are actually close enough to them to make them stop. Keep it light, be consistent with your practice and they will learn.
You will find using the ‘stop’ command very useful – they are about to run away – stop! They are about to touch something hot – stop! Once you have their attention this way, you can then encourage them, help them, instruct them to do the right thing – whether it is to come for a nappy change, or to hold onto the side of the pram, or to be kind.