What Stop Training Your Toddler Is and Why You Need to Do It


teaching toddlers how to walk on the street safelyHow many times have you frantically chased down your toddler or screamed a train of “Stop! STOP!! STOOOPPPP!!!” as he approaches a street or other dangerous situation at full speed ahead? If you just want to keep your child safe and also keep your sanity, you HAVE to give stop training a try.

The goal: Your child will stop immediately in his tracks when you calmly say “Stop,” in a volume just loud enough to reach his ears.

The training is surprisingly straightforward. Have your toddler walk along without holding your hand, and practice saying, “Stop.” at intervals of about 30-60 seconds. A slow, calm, self-assured, “Stop.” is what we’re going for. Zero stress in your tone.

Choose stopping points that don’t pose any danger to practice. Walk alongside your child and ensure that you completely stop after your own command too. Allow for a pause of about 4 seconds while you keep your eyes fixed on her before recognizing her success* and telling her to continue on. Gradually extend the intervals at which you practice, as well as how far ahead you allow her to venture from your side.

When children do not stop, immediately stop them by firmly taking their arm. If they got ahead of you, bring them back to the point where you said stop. Restate your expectation: “when Mommy says stop, we stop, like this,” and quickly get back to it: “Let’s try again.”

When you’re ready to try the stop command at the curb, prepare your mini-me by telling her that you’re about to reach the street so you’ll be saying stop soon. Always stay close enough to physically stop her if needed, especially with a younger toddler or before you are confident with your child’s rate of compliance. It’s a wise idea to ultimately train your child to stop at all curbs without being told. Quick tip: children are literal beings, so enforce all curbs from the start, whether or not they “count” as a street to your adult brain.

Stop training is not just about getting your toddler to follow directions. And while safety is huge, this is really about something deeper. It’s about gaining the confidence to give our children the freedom to explore their world and develop their bodies and minds. We do this by training them well and then using limits only when we must.

So there you have it. One command. Automatic compliance. It’s what you need if you don’t want to spend the next five years yanking your kid around by the arm.



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