Tips to encourage your toddler to try new things

Do you have a toddler who is stuck in their ways and thoroughly enjoying using the old standby ‘No!’ when asked to try something new? You would not be the first parent to experience the phenomenon of the stubborn toddler, nor will you be the last. So we’ve come up with a few tips and tricks to persuade your fussy toddler to be more open-minded!

Nevertheless, persist

Your toddler will eventually get tired of refusing to eat their vegetables. You will eventually get tired of offering them. The trick is for your willpower to last longer than your toddler’s willpower! Keep offering them their vegetables or whatever it is that they’re rebelling against, and eventually they may change their minds and try it your way.

Don’t turn on the pressure

Although we say above that you should continually offer new things to your toddler, try not to turn up the pressure too much. This includes minimising bribery and threats, which will teach your child to expect prizes or punishments for doing or not doing everyday activities. For instance, when it comes to eating vegetables, gently offer them the veggies, saying that if they want to eat their dinner, mummy will be taking the plate away in 20 minutes. That will give them a time limit, so they know they won’t be sitting at the table staring down cold carrots until bedtime. If they refuse to eat dinner, wrap it up and leave it somewhere handy. They may come looking for it in a little while when they’re hungry again!

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Be a role model

Sometimes your toddler needs to see you doing something before they try it themselves – for instance, your toddler won’t eat their broccoli unless they see you doing it too. If they’re nervous about going to preschool, set up a time where you and your toddler can go together for 20 minutes or a half hour to observe the teacher and the classroom. Maybe do an activity together like a jigsaw or a painting. With mummy or daddy there, your toddler can see that it’s not a scary thing, just a new thing that you discover together. It minimises feelings of anxiety and nervousness when they go to try it themselves.

Ego boost

Sometimes toddlers can be afraid to try things outside their comfort zone. Similar to us adults, they may need a little encouragement from time to time. Make sure their egos are nice and full before trying new activities.

Give them a choice

If you want to your child to start getting into sports, offer them a choice between three sports and see which one they choose. Choosing gives the child more independence and a sense of autonomy about their life, just like mummy and daddy have! Similarly, if you want your toddler to put their shoes on and they’re point blank refusing to put their shoes on (can’t think of any child who would do that…) offer them a choice. For example, ‘you can either put your shoes on and come with me to the playground, or you can stay in the buggy with no shoes on while I play in the playground.’

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Usually they’ll make the right call!

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