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Think like a toddler: He may be confused, not defiant

What if they aren’t following through because of a misunderstanding instead of an attitude of defiance?

Think like a toddler: He may be confused, not defiant

“Please put on your pajamas honey.”

Blank stare.


“I’m not going to ask you again!”

Another blank stare.

There have been many times where I’ve given our preschooler a direction and she doesn’t follow through. Who else has been there with me? ?

Shortly after our daughter turned 3, we decided it was time to increase her independence by teaching her to put her pajamas on by herself. The only problem was our uniquely independent toddler didn’t seem to be listening to anything I said. Every time we told her to get dressed, she would stare at us or whine, “But I can’t!”

I often believed she was being defiant. Shouldn’t a preschooler know how to put her pajamas on? How do I get my toddler to listen without yelling at her?

I was at a crossroads. Was my daughter being defiant and strong willed? Or was I missing something? As parents, it can be difficult to tell if our kids are deliberately disobeying or if they really don’t understand what we are asking.

What if they aren’t following through because of a misunderstanding instead of an attitude of defiance?

We often forget that children need simple, explicit directions.

For example, if we tell our toddlers to put on pajamas, they may not know where to start. The reason they aren’t listening to anything we say isn’t because they want to misbehave—it’s because they don’t know specifically what we are asking them to do.

One way to determine if compliance is an issue is to break down the task into simple steps.

Start with the basics: “First find the arm hole. Then put one arm through the arm hole.” It may seem silly to an adult, but many young children need tasks broken down into clear and straightforward steps.  We tried this technique with our daughter at bedtime and we were pleasantly surprised. She started following through and she was able to follow our simple commands!

It turns out she wasn’t being disobedient about putting on her pajamas. We were asking her to do something new and she needed help with the process. Now she can do it all by herself!

Do you ever wonder why your child is disobeying? Instead of disciplining right away, take a step back. Have you been using phrases like:

“Be a better listener.”

“Go play.”

“Get ready for school.”

“Pay attention.”

Although these phrases seem obvious or simple to adults, kids may need more explicit directions. What does paying attention look like? What does getting ready for school entail?  Think about what you are saying and break it down.

Try giving thorough directions and breaking tasks into small manageable steps. You may be surprised to find out your child wasn’t understanding your initial commands!

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We're so glad to live in a time when modern baby gear exists. Sure, no one is going to argue that having a baby is easy—but it can be easier with support from some gadgets designed to help your baby and put your mind at ease.

As you build your baby registry, look for products that go the extra mile to make your life a whole lot easier. For example, what's better than a bassinet? A bassinet that can rock by itself. And what's better than a traditional baby monitor? One that allows you to actually take a peek at your baby. Believe us when we say these upgrades can make all the difference.

Here are 10 baby gadgets that will make your life so much easier… relatively speaking, of course!


A bassinet to promote safe + sound sleep

HALO Innovations Bassinest Swivel Sleeper Essenta Series Nautical Net

The safest place for your newborn to sleep is in your room, but not in your bed. Thanks to the swivel function of the Halo Bassinest, you can easily tend to your baby during the night—which means more sleep for you, too. Trust us when we say that is the best gift you can give a new parent.

$239.99

A smart swing for your baby

4moms mamaRoo 4 Bluetooth Enabled High-Tech Baby Swing - Classic

Believe it or not, many babies are born with strong opinions about how they want to be rocked, swung or shushed to calm down. With the mamaRoo's various motions and reclining positions, you'll be able to find a setting your baby loves when you need to free up your hands for a bit.

$219.99

A complete travel system for car + sidewalk

Chicco Bravo Travel System - Indigo

No matter where the day takes you—or what mode of transportation you need to get there—getting a complete travel system for your baby will equip you for anything.

$379.99

A swaddle you don’t have to wrestle

Love To Dream Swaddle UP Original

What do babies and Harry Houdini have in common? A knack for breaking out of tight constraints—which can be a headache when swaddling is the best way to help promote good sleep. Thanks to a breakout-proof swaddle that allows your baby to sleep with their hands up, you don't have to work up a sweat just to get your baby comfortably swaddled.

$29.99

A nursery wherever you need it

Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe II Nursery Center

During the early days of parenting (when you are feeding and changing your baby around the clock), having convenient access to everything you need with a go-anywhere nursery station can save you serious time and energy.

$99.99

A little help for stuffy noses

Fridababy NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator

Up until the point years down the road when your child is able to blow their own nose, the sniffles can be a real struggle—but not with a nasal aspirator that makes it easy for you to get that snot out of their nose.

$15.99

A way to keep an eye on your baby

VTech 5" Digital Video Baby Monitor - VM5251

Trust us when we say you'll sleep better when you know your baby is also sleeping soundly. That's why we're so thankful for modern-day video monitors, which allow you to check in on your sleeping baby without running the risk of waking them up when you sneak in for a peek.

$79.99

A bassinet for hands-free rocking

Simmons Kids Silent Auto Gliding Elite Bassinet - Odyssey

Babies are soothed by rocking motions. But what does that mean for you if you can't rock them throughout the night? With an auto-gliding bassinet, they can comfortably drift off to sleep... and continue snoozing.

$99.99

An easy way to contain diaper smells

Diaper Genie Expressions Pail

Sometimes it's the little conveniences that make a big difference in the quality of your day-to-day life. That's why a great diaper pail should not be undervalued: By containing the smell, you will save yourself dozens upon dozens of trips to the garbage can.

$24.99

A white noise machine that pulls double duty

Hatch Rest Sound Machine, Night Light & Time-to-Rise

A phone-controlled sound machine may be something you never considered until now, but it will be a major lifesaver for years to come, especially as it can also function as a time-to-rise clock that promotes good sleep habits for your child.

$59.99

And as for securing all these awesome products? Well, a Target baby registry is the way to do it. By creating your baby registry with Target, you will also enjoy their Year of Benefits registry program, which includes perks like a welcome kit with more than $100 in savings and samples, two 15% off coupons to complete your registry, and a full year of returns. The benefits are better than ever right now: Target just launched the Year of Exclusive Deals perk as one of its registry benefits, and this includes a year's worth of discounts on baby essentials (think diapers and formula) and comes complementary when you sign up for Target Circle.

Because while parenting may not be "easy," deciding to register with Target definitely is an easy decision. Start your Target baby registry now and enjoy shopping with a Year of Benefits featuring a Year of Exclusive Deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more!

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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