Toddler Not Listening? Try This Preschool Teacher’s Proven Strategy!

Wouldn’’t it be great if all your daycare toddlers stopped what they were doing and listened to your instructions before you switched activities?

Say it and they might listen, SING IT and watch the magic happen!

You have probably felt the power of song yourself if you have ever walked down a crowded city street during the summer.  People are talking all around you and you block them out as you focus on your self-appointed task. Then as you round the corner you hear music and someone singing.

It’’s a street performer playing the guitar and singing a song. You feel your attention slip over to them unconsciously. The melody catches your ear and your focus drifts toward their face. You can’t help yourself.

Young children journey deep into their own imagination when they play. They are wrapped up in their imaginary world and they do not hear you when you ask them to clean up or wash their hands.

Your voice is a faint, distant request. They might also choose to ignore you because their current activity is more enjoyable than your request.

Want an easy Solution?

SING their NAME.

The melody of your voice will awaken their attention; they will focus on your face and then you can deliver your request.

Receiving and responding to a request to stop an enjoyable activity is difficult for everyone. Most of us have trouble putting down our phones.

Can you imagine how difficult it is for a child? They have only been on this planet for a few years! When a request is delivered in a musical way, it is MUCH easier to receive it.

Children also appreciate playfulness in their lives.

Singing a request suggests that the next activity will be enjoyable.

As adults, we respond to the personalized upbeat ring tone that signals a text from a good friend. A familiar tune has the power to grab our attention.

Upbeat music pushes our bodies to move. You can use this unconscious human response to music to help your toddlers listen to your voice.

But I don’t know how to sing!

No problem. It doesn’’t have to be #1 on the charts. Children do not care about tonal quality.

Simple is best for young kids. And silly is best for older kids!

Use a simple tune of a nursery rhyme you know and add in your instructions. Here is one I use for washing hands.

““Here we go now to wash our hands,

wash our hands, wash our hands.” “

Here we go now, to wash our hands,

so we can eat our lunch”.”


Use a child’s name to grab their attention. Say something fun and silly. Most children can’t resist a silly request.

They will stop their activity because you have invited them to be silly. Make interacting with you something that is enjoyable.

“”Jenny, renny, penny,

it’’s time to stop for lunch.”

Jenny, renny, penny,

I have tractors and unicorns to munch.”


Tractors?! Unicorns? Kids love it when I’m deliberately silly. It works every time.

Music is a universal thread that resonates within everyone. Young children can’t help but focus on music when it is sung to them. Music is motivating and kids love to join in when you invite them through song.

 A song is easy to carry with you and pull out of your teacher toolbox when needed.

Don’t let a lousy singing voice or bland lyrics stop you from trying this effective strategy. Children aren’t self-conscious, they just smile and sing.

You do the same!


Want more Toddler Strategies? Read, Toddler Throwing Toys? Two Helpful Tips!

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