Can You Reason with a Toddler?

Let’s start with the simple answer: no, you cannot reason with toddlers. Nevertheless, as a parent, it’s very tempting to try. You calmly explain why they can’t eat a dessert at seven in the morning, or why they can’t go to grandma’s house in Greenwood, IN right this instant. Inevitably, your child doesn’t care about your reasoning and throws a temper tantrum.

But while the answer to “can a toddler be reasoned with?” is “no,” you can do some things to avoid a battle of wills with your toddler (which you will lose!). Let’s look at why reasoning with toddlers is something to avoid and some strategies you can use instead.

Toddlers don’t always respond to logic

Between the ages of two and three years old, children can begin to make logical connections. They’re beginning to understand how the world works. However, their grasp on logic is very tenuous. Toddlers also have minimal ability to manage their emotions, which will always trump logic.

Take the example of a child who wants to go to the park right now, this very instant. You might say, “I’m cooking dinner now. We can go to the park after dinner.” Cue the crying and screaming child who wants to go now and simply cannot understand that the near future is a thing that exists.

Your first instinct may be to reiterate your very sensible point that you need to eat dinner first before you go to the park. You may even be tempted to provide additional arguments about how eating healthily will help your child grow big and strong, but you should resist that temptation and…

Validate your child’s feelings

You might incidentally minimize the child’s feelings by saying something like, “What are you crying for? I didn’t say ‘no.’ We’re still going to the park, just later.” Instead, allow the child to express their emotions. Toddlers have oh so many feelings, and telling them to bottle those feelings up can backfire.

Resist bargaining, bribing and backing down

In this example, you might simply back down and take the child to the park, or you might promise them dessert to distract them from their frustration. While no one is perfect and you might cave from time to time, these strategies aren’t going to help your child’s development.

It’s important to stick to what you’ve said. The child doesn’t need to understand why they can’t go to the park at the moment, but they do need to understand that you mean what you say and that they can’t always get what they want.

We hope this guide to how to reason with toddlers has been helpful. When you’re looking for warm, supportive childcare in Greenwood, IN, turn to Kids Kingdom Early Learning Center. Since 2017, we have provided a variety of services, including daily non-denominational Christian education, before care and aftercare services. As a family owned and operated business, we value providing Christian education and quality childcare. Contact us for more information or come check out our facilities today!