Why Toddlers Don’t Do What They are Told

Parents with toddlers will definitely have this question asked: “Why my toddler does not listed to what I tell him to do?” Some may find it frustrating and often we label the toddler as naughty, rebellious.

Few fail to understand toddlers function differently from adult and as an adult, we always use our own benchmark to judge our toddlers.

A psychology professor, Yuko Munakata, from the University of Colorado, found during a study that focuses on cognitive development, that actually toddlers listen, but they store the information for later use. Professor Munakata said: “Suppose it is cold outside and you tell your 3-year-old to go get his jacket”, the 3-year-old will run outside, discover that it is cold first, before he retrieve the memory of where the jacket is and then go get it. Professor Munakata suggested that instead of repeating the same thing again and again to your young child, perhaps you could say: “I know you don’t want to take your coat now, but when you are standing in the yard shivering later, remember that you can get your coat from your bedroom.”

Here’s the full article: “Why Toddlers Don’t Do What They’re Told“.


Understanding Toddlers

Toddlerhood starts from the age of 1 1/2 years old until the 3rd birthday. During this time, they go through many new physical, emotional and intellectual experience. They have high energy levels, they are curious, impulsive, easily frustrated, try to exert independence and they become extremely possessive.

Toddler behaviour leaves many parents dumbfounded because toddlers plunges impulsively into activities without much thinking. Even when toddlers think, it is not logical, your explanation won’t stop him from trying, even if he has not mastered the skill yet. The developmental quirk drives toddlers behaviour that gets them into trouble and can send caregivers to the brink.

There are many toddlers’ behaviours that we adult simply don’t understand:

  1. Why can’t toddlers walk from A to B without being distracted by a leaf?
  2. Why isn’t the green cup as good as the blue cup?
  3. Why do toddlers snatch?
  4. Why do toddlers always want what their brother or sister is playing with?

Fundamentally, toddlers think in different ways from older children and adults, we can’t blame them, that’s just the way their brains are wired, simply because they are still in an early stage of cognitive development and their brains are only half-finished.

If you step into a toddler’s brain and look inside, you will make more sense on each toddler’s behaviour. This article “Toddlers’ brains: how toddlers think“, explains toddlers’ behaviour from the brain development perspective.

Some challenging toddlers behaviour is developmentally correct. The same toddler behaviour the child needs to developmentally advance to the next level are the very ones that can get him into trouble. As a child goes from dependence into independence, some behaviours are simply a by-product of the child’s need to become an independent individual. The bad “Stubborn” behaviour is also what help your child get up after a fall and try again.

Here’s another good article that decode some of the maddening toddlers’ tactics and ways to deal with them. “How Toddlers Really Think: Understanding and Reasoning 101“.