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How To Teach Your Child to Ask For Help Calmly

Updated: Jan 4, 2023


Born Happy, Nashville, TN, Tennessee, Baby Sleep Coach, Baby Sleep Consultant, Toddler Sleep Coach, Toddler Sleep Consultant, Parent Coach, Sleep, Overnight Waking, Toddler Sleep, Preschooler Sleep, Baby Sleep, Parenting, Boundaries, Tantrum, Sleep Challenges

Teach your toddler to ask for help calmly? Ha! Is that a joke?


Rewind 7 years, I was a first-time mom to a 2-year-old. And I was beginning to understand what people meant when they talked about the terrible twos.


I actually didn't think the twos were so terrible. But the big emotions and attempts to cry, whine, throw a fit as a way to convince me to do something? No thank you.


I decided at that time, I was going to nip this before it nipped me.


Good news is, Roberto is now 9 and still uses the strategies we used 7 years ago when he wants something. Sometimes even backfires because I have a hard time saying no when he is so sweet and asks so kindly.


My second child, however? I am not so persistent.


I only have so much energy to be patient. If I've already spent it on something else, I am much more likely to give in.


But I am working on playing catch up. I am going back to the strategies I used to teach my son to ask for help calmly, plus the parenting wisdom I have learned over the years.


Want to know how I teach my toddler and preschoolers to ask for help without throwing a fit?


Check it out.





Born Happy, Nashville, TN, Tennessee, Baby Sleep Coach, Baby Sleep Consultant, Toddler Sleep Coach, Toddler Sleep Consultant, Parent Coach, Sleep, Overnight Waking, Toddler Sleep, Preschooler Sleep, Baby Sleep, Parenting, Boundaries, Tantrum, Sleep Challenges


Step 1 - Notice Your Toddler Needs Help


Your kiddo wants help. He or she has learned that whining, crying, throwing a fit sometimes gets you to help. So, naturally, they will continue to do what works.


She whines. You ignore. She cries. You try to encourage her, but don't help. She throws a fit. Fine, you don't have time to wait it out. You just help her do what she needs.


If this is how things go in your house, you're not alone.


But, obviously what you are doing isn't working.


So many of us parents have conditioned ourselves to ignore the whining, crying, tantrums. It sometimes is a good strategy, necessary to get tantrums to stop.


However, ignoring isn't always going to solve our problems.


Ignoring teaches that crying/whining/tantrums DOES NOT get your kiddo the help he wants.


But it doesn't teach him what TO DO TO get the help he wants. We've got to take it to the next level.

Okay, so what to do? Your kiddo wants help. She whines. This is where your first step comes in! YOU notice she needs helps. Training your brain to notice can take practice. Stick with it!


Step 2 - Ask If Your Toddler Needs Help


You notice that your child is getting frustrated and is using his go-to strategy to request help. Whining.


Instead of ignoring the whining, point out to your child that she may need help.


"Do you need help getting your socks on?"


Step 3 - Ask For A Clam Request For Help


If your child indicates that yes, she does need help. Pause. Don't give help yet.


Ask your child to actually ask for help.


Whining/crying/throwing a tantrum has, in the past, been a way your kiddo has successfully asked for help. Right? She whines, she gets help. In her mind, it is a way to ask for help.


Instead of allowing the whining to be a way to ask for help, instead ask for a calm request for help.


In a calm way, remind your child that there is a calm way to ask for help.


Simply say, "How do you ask for help?" or "I am happy to help when you ask me calmly."


She may not know how to do this the first time you ask her, so quickly move on to step 4 the first few times.


However, once you teach this, be sure to pause to give her the chance to ask for help calmly.



Born Happy, Nashville, TN, Tennessee, Baby Sleep Coach, Baby Sleep Consultant, Toddler Sleep Coach, Toddler Sleep Consultant, Parent Coach, Sleep, Overnight Waking, Toddler Sleep, Preschooler Sleep, Baby Sleep, Parenting, Boundaries, Tantrum, Sleep Challenges


Step 4 - Demonstrate A Calm Request For Help


Okay, here is where we take things to the next level.


You will not only teach your child that whining is NOT an effective way to ask for help. You will teach what IS an effective way to ask for help.


Recite the script you want your child to use when asking for help.


Here is what I like to say...


"Hey mommy, can you please help me put my socks on?"


When I offer the script, I say it in a very exaggerated, kind, and calm way. This makes it very clear how different my suggestion is compared to the whining/crying/tantrums that my child is attempting.


Don't forget to throw a smile in there.


Step 5 - Be Patient


This is where things can derail.


Your child may continue to whine or cry before attempting to ask for help calmly.


Depending on how much time or patience you have, you may want to just jump in and get the job done. However, I'd encourage you to stick with it and wait for a calm request for help.


If your child continues to whine, and you abandon your attempt at getting a calm request, nothing will change. Your child will again have learned that whining is an effective way to ask and receive help and will not work on keeping calm.


Instead, use this time to try to stay calm and patient yourself.


Offer some help calming down. Maybe a hug, deep breaths together, a lovey, a little tickle.


But if nothing is helping calm your kiddo down, this is where ignoring can come back in.


If the whining persists and your attempts to help calm your child down didn't work, let your child know you are going to continue with what you are doing, but are happy to help when she asks for help calmly.


And then you move on and ignore the whining.


Step 6 - Wait For a Calm Request For Help


What if your child begins to calm down, asks for help a little calmer, but is still whining or crying a bit?


I'd encourage you to hold out for a truly calm request for help.


Acknowledge the attempt at asking calmly. "Great job. You are really working hard at asking calmly."


Wipe tears, give a hug, take a deep breath to try to help your kiddo get the rest of the way there.


You repeat the script. "Hey mommy, can you please help me put my socks on?"


Make it silly to get a smile out of your kiddo as she continues to attempt asking calmly.


"Almost there!" Then repeat script in an exaggerated way.


" So close!" Repeat script again in an exaggerated way.


Continue until you get a truly calm request for help.


Step 7 - Be Consistent


Whew, that was a lot of effort!


If you are CONSISTANT. Every time your child needs help and tries to ask my whining/crying/throwing a fit. Your toddler will begin to not only learn that the old way of asking never works. But will also get lots of practice with the new way of asking.


It will get easier! It will get faster!


Eventually ignoring the first request for help with a whine will be the only reminder she needs to ask in a calm and kind way.


It is worth the effort!


Let me know how it goes in the comments below!

 

Katie Ramirez, RN, BSN, CLC

Born Happy, Owner and Coach


Born Happy, Nashville, TN, Tennessee, US, United States, Baby Sleep Coach, Toddler Sleep Coach, Toddler Sleep Consultant, Baby Sleep Consultant
Katie Ramirez RN, CLC

Katie Ramirez is a Registered Nurse, Certified Lactation Counselor, and Coach for parents of babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. She has spent more than a decade serving patients at major university hospitals such as Vanderbilt University and Penn State University Medical Centers. Katie now spends her time supporting and empowering parents of babies, toddlers, and preschoolers as founder and coach for Born Happy.

Katie is the proud mother of two beautiful children, Roberto (age 9), and Veronica (age 7). She has a passion for health, wellness, and happy children, and believes that, with the necessary knowledge and support, all parents can live happy.

 

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