How to get a toddler to listen?

My 3 year old has a really hard time leaving places. In most ways he is a great listener, and polite and sweet as can be. It appears he has issues transitioning from activity to activity and will have a total meltdown when we have to leave a place. At times even tries to run away. I’ve tried talking to him beforehand, afterwards (of which he always apologizes) It just doesn’t seem to be improving. Has anyone dealt with this? And what do you do? DO NOT suggest spanking. Not even because I am against it. Solely because I know it will not work for this child.


He’s a normal 3yr old boy and you are doing just fine. Don’t worry too much, he’ll come around. Just keep whatever you are doing to deal with it, consistent. Don’t stop taking him place’s, that’s just silly.


If you’re at a park and you say something like ‘ooh did you see that squirrel in that tree down there? Let’s go and see it jump to another branch’ it’s usually enough distraction. And then the squirrel heads in the direction you need to go.
If you’re leaving soft play area keep positive say something like ‘Ooh yes we’ll come back very soon. It’s been so much fun. I’d like to go on the slide next time’ whilst moving. Keep positive talking. I hope it works for you x

1 Like

One I really dont like some of the moms on here telling u to be a parent like that is not ok. Every child is different and has a hard time with things. They also don’t know ur struggles and full story so the jumping down a mothers throat who is obviously asking for some advice not criticism is wrong. In those situations I used to tell my godson and nephew who I raised the daily plan get them excited for the next thing we have to do even involve them cause they had the same problem with going to one thing after another. When I would have errands I would involve them like we need this cereal can u grab this box and put it in the cart or if we went to the park I would let play and when it was time to go home I would be like r u gonna help me make dinner for the family and involve them when we got home if they still were wanting to if not they could go play. Jus taking the extra step of making them excited and involved helped me with going place to place, task to task. But like I said every child is different jus gotta work with him and find his happy spot in which he is comfortable with changes.


Tell him the exact time that you will be leaving and stick to it. Then give him a heads up every 5 minutes starting at around 15 minutes before you leave.

Totally normal! My 6 year old still does this from time to time!

I know you said you talk to him beforehand, but I don’t know what you’ve tried. For a child who really struggles, first talk them through it as you’re walking in. “We’re going to the playground. Before it’s time to go, I’m going to give you a 5 minute warning. When I say it’s time to leave, I expect you to take my hand and walk to the car with me with no problems. If you act up when it’s time to leave, we won’t be going anywhere fun for a while. Do you understand?” Get a “yes” from him before he’s allowed to go play. Give a 5 minute warning before it’s time to go “sweetie, we’ll be leaving in 5 minutes. Finish up with your friends and I’ll let you know when it’s time.” When it’s time, head towards him. Tell him it’s time to go. I usually let mine do 1 more trip down the slide or something small if they ask. Then, put your hand out and say" let’s go." If he does anything other than head your way, remind him that you will not be going anywhere fun again for a while if he does not come to you immediately. Any more issues, you pick him up yourself and carry him to the car, all the while telling him that because of his decision, you will not be going anywhere fun for a while since he couldn’t behave himself. Go home, carry on as usual. If he asks about going anywhere fun, remind him of what you said. Tell him that you’ll have to stay home because you can’t trust him to behave himself when it’s time to leave. Keep it going for about 2 weeks, then try again. Same procedure. You shouldn’t have an issue again.


Maybe a distraction? Like get him a toy that he only plays with when you’re going from one place to another. My 16mo has a toy that attaches to her stroller, so she knows that when I hand it to her, we’re about to leave.

YES we did with our son when is was younger, we found out it is called seperation anxity