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How do I get my 20 month old daughter to listen to me?

She is such a good girl, no tantrums, no biting, no hitting. But she does not listen....she can hear very well, she just refuses to listen when I talk to her. Even just calling her name, she will NOT look at me. I can stand right in front of her and she will look away....when I tell her no she laughs at me...I am not very good with discipline...actually, she has really never been disciplined out side of stern "NO"s here and there. I have tried time out but she thinks that is a game also....she creeps out of the corner and when I sternly tell her she has to sit back down she squeals running back to the place I sat her in.
Is this just a phase? How do I manage this? I would so appreciate any advice on "discipline" for a 20 month old...I just don't believe in spanking (for my own child) and I cannot yell..
I am a single mom, the separation was hard on her. She is a good girl...I just want her to stay that way!

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Asked by mdehn at 9:49 PM on Jun. 10, 2009 in Toddlers (1-2)

Level 1 (2 Credits)
Answers (16)
  • Your baby is just getting to an age where she understands the concept of listening. It takes a lot of coordination and skill for a baby to understand "don't jump on the bed you'll get hurt" or something like that. Within the next 6 months you will see a lot of change in this area and your baby WILL understand more.

    Start now by getting down to her level and speaking clearly, even if she doesn't completely understand. This authoritative yet gentle approach will form a patterning system in your child's brain, and you'll get there.

    I also recommend The Discipline Book by Dr. Sears, lots of great tools that don't include hitting your kids. :)

    My daughter is going to be 2 next week, and she is just now getting to a point that she understand discipline such as today at the pool she kept wanting to bring her snacks in the water but I was able to tell her that she could not. a few months ago that would not have worked.


    Answer by Arkaidy at 9:58 PM on Jun. 10, 2009

  • I also wanted to add that people expect WAY too much of babies/toddlers in the area of understanding, so be patient. :)

    Answer by Arkaidy at 9:58 PM on Jun. 10, 2009

  • There is no substitute for a good swat on the behind to get a child's attention. Since she is such a good child already, it probably won't take but a few times and she will be paying attention to what you tell her to do or not to do. It's the singular best way to establish in a child's mind that she is not the one in control or the one in authority. What you are seeing is not a phase. It is the first sign of rebellion and it needs to be quelled right now. If you don't teach her that she is under your authority, she will have a very hard time submitting to the authority of teachers or to anyone else who is in a superior position over her. You explain to her that you are going to tell her one time. That's it. no counting, no nothing else. If she does not obey, because you love her too much to let her be disrespectful toward her mother, she will be spanked. There is something about the sting that connects with the brain

    Answer by NannyB. at 10:03 PM on Jun. 10, 2009

  • your daughter sounds just like my son. Ladies I like your advice.

    Answer by Anonymous at 10:16 PM on Jun. 10, 2009

  • My daughter is 19 months and knows right from wrong... she listens when I call her and is very understanding. I smack her diaper when she's about to hurt herself (ie electrical sockets!) and she knows better now. I also get down to her eye level and explain myself and why I do not want her doing something or why she should come here. If she doesn't come to me, I grab her!!! Simple as that... I'm mom and when I say it's time to go, we do!
    Her daddy is deployed.. has been for 11 months! Just gotta stick to it, don't change your rules.... teach her to listen. If timeouts don't work, talk to her (i grab my daughters chin and make her look me in the eyes if she doesn't want to listen)... make her come to you by going and getting her. If she throws a fit take something away! Playtime or a toy!! She is old enough to understand right from wrong because she already knows how to ignore you. Tell her that behavior isn't acceptable

    Answer by 07lilmama1108 at 10:17 PM on Jun. 10, 2009

  • Thank you ladies...I never thought to get to eye level with her, and I probably do think to often that she should understand when maybe she is just not there yet.....I could not ever swat her....though I know and understand it does work for parents (and mine did for me) I have not ever raised my hand to anyone or anything, I am just not able. And the not minding me when I talk to her part, well I could try holding her face in my hand and forcing her to look at me....I just don't want her to be afraid of me. I do agree that I need to start putting my foot down a bit more now....I appreciate all of the advice!

    Answer by mdehn at 10:36 PM on Jun. 10, 2009

  • Push her down. LOL Just Kiddng! I always tell my hubby that I want to push down my 19 month tho!! I wouldn't do it though. Usually I just get right in her face, if she won't look at me I hold her cheeks so she has to. If she is picking on her brother then she can't play with him. If she's throwing toys, then she has to pick them up. I just sit right by her until she listens. She is really good most of the time but loves to annoy her 3 year old brother. She constantly takes his toys and runs away laughing. No doesn't work, timeouts don't really work. So far if I take her toys away, that works better. So logical consequences ya know?

    Answer by JessalynnJade at 10:37 PM on Jun. 10, 2009

  • Yes, there is a good substitute for a swat on the butt. I can't belive that you are advising this mother to hit her 20 month old child.

    Clearly you have never read anything on child development to understand how the brain of a 2 year old works (and this child is not even 2).

    It's just so heart breaking to me how callous we can be to our children.


    Hiting your children should NEVER be an acceptable for of discipline, especially for a 20 month old BABY!

    Answer by Arkaidy at 10:38 PM on Jun. 10, 2009

  • Spanking doesn't help establish authority. Otherwise, how would children in daycare ever function? It's sad that people act like you have to hit babies.

    OP, you are doing a great job, but you do have to discipline. The advice you got on discipline, not just swatting her, is great. Ignore people that say you have to hit your child -you don't. You just have to work harder than they do.

    Answer by apexmommy at 11:14 PM on Jun. 10, 2009

  • *hugs* apex mommy :)

    Answer by Arkaidy at 11:19 PM on Jun. 10, 2009

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