Polite, respectful and friendly.
These words are what come to mind when I think about talking to toddlers. I have on many occasions been witness to a number of family and friends speaking to my 3 year old and my 9 month old in a way that makes me cringe.
So here are a few suggestions when approaching my children.
Give them time
When you first see my child walk into the room, please refrain from pouncing on them because you have not seen them in weeks. Even those who do see them multiple times a week know that you should let the child come to you.
It may take 5mins for them to warm up to you, it may take 30. What ever it takes be patient, gentle and relaxed. You will be rewarded with a happy child not one clinging to their parent out of fear.
No one likes being talked to without knowing WHO they are talking to. As adults we introduce ourselves to other adults, so why cant we be polite and do the same to a child.
This is also very helpful in establishing WHO and in WHAT relation to the child you are. Ie if you are the Nanna, introduce yourself as Nanna. Talk about yourself AS Nanna. Parents can only tell their child a few times WHO you are but if YOU don’t reiterate then the child will not remember.
When talking to my child please be considerate and give them space to move. Do not corner them in a small space. Like wild animals this is an aggressive move. Allow some focusing space from their face. Kids do not like to be talked to millimeters from their nose. We as adults dont like it so please show respect and step away.
Toddlers and babies are below Adult belt lines. They struggle to look UP to maintain focus. When speaking to my child. Please bend or squat down, or even better, sit on the floor with them. You then become equals in the conversation.
A toddler will chat at a hundred miles a minute if you allow them too. Try not to interrupt as they are obviously excited about something, whether its the new colouring book they have or a mark on the floor. Smile, nod and when they ask you or tell you something ACKNOWLEDGE it the FIRST time. If you don’t they will either REPEAT until answered or be DISHEARTENED to talk again.
Be gentle. Talk softly and pleasantly and you will be rewarded with tales and friendship.
If you take a moment to think about how you like to be talked to, and how not to be talked to, the above points may mirror some of your own preferences. Remember; Kids are people too.