The Toddler Dictionary: Tips on Communicating with Your Toddler

Your toddler isn't hardwired to ignore you -- she's just learning about language, so what seems logical to you can be baffling to her. Think of this guide as your discipline decoder.

When you say: "Shh, quiet!"

mother talking to child

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You mean We're in the library, and I'm mortified that you're being so loud!

Why your kid doesn't get it Toddlers are still learning to modulate their voice and manage impulse control. "Moreover, social graces -- like knowing when a situation calls for a whisper -- take time for them to internalize," explains Parents advisor Michele Borba, Ed.D., author of The Big Book of Parenting Solutions.

Speak toddler Whisper, "Use this voice!" Little kids are natural copycats, so if you show your child how you'd like him to talk, he will likely follow, Dr. Borba notes. Also practice talking in "quiet voices" at home. "It'll make things easier if you allow your kid to transfer the behavior from a secure environment, one-on-one with you, into the real world," Dr. Borba says. Finally, tailor your expectations to where he is developmentally. Expect to whisper reminders and to take him to the lobby frequently the first few times you visit a new quiet-required environment. Ultimately, you'll see a big payoff.

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