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5 great activities to teach your toddler to listen

The toddler stage is so much fun. Your child is more active, more verbal, and let’s face it, has more energy than should be humanly possible. Sometimes, getting your toddler to stop (or even slow down) long enough to listen to you can be a challenge. A very cute challenge.

If you are wondering how to teach your toddler to listen, we have some activities that can help. These may seem like games, but they are teaching your toddler when it’s time to be quiet and listen to someone else and when it’s their turn to talk. Let’s check out 5 toddler listening activities that you’ll both enjoy doing.

A mother and her toddler dancing.
fizkes / Shutterstock

How to teach a toddler to listen

Freeze dance game

Toddlers love to dance. It’s the cutest. If you love to have a dance party with your child, then a game of freeze dance will be perfect. Find some of your guys’ favorite songs, and that’s all you need. Explain to your toddler that you will dance when the music is on and have to freeze when the music is off.

If they don’t quite understand, that’s fine! They’ll pick it up when they watch you do it. Mimic it out a few times by freezing when you turn the music off. It’s all about getting your toddler to learn to listen to the music and when it starts and stops. The great thing about this activity is you only need the two of you. The other awesome thing is that the whole family can join in as well.

Simon says

We all love the Simon says game. You’ll have to play a slower version with your toddler, but if you have multiple children, get them all to play. Sit down in front of your toddler and be Simon. Use nice and easy commands. Ones like “touch your toes” or “jump” are perfect.

If it’s just you and your little one, you can take turns being Simon. The goal is to get your child to learn to listen to when you say “Simon says” and when you don’t. This is actually a great activity for children of all ages. It’s fun for the kids when they see their parents mess up and get knocked out of the game.

A mother chasing her toddler.
Oksana Kuzmina / Shutterstock

Red light, green light

Or you might know this game as stop and go, or whatever you called it growing up. This is a simple game to play with just the two of you. You don’t even need to buy anything. If you have two paper plates, one red marker, and one green marker, you’ll have what you need to make the game. Write “stop” in red on one plate and “go” in green on the other. You can glue popsicle sticks to the plates if you want to get crazy.

Hold the “’go” plate up and let your toddler know they can run or walk to you. Then when you hold up the “stop” plate, they need to stop. Have fun switching up the speed of switching out the plates. Watch out when it’s their turn to hold the plates for you. Toddlers can move those plates a lot faster than you think they can.

Noise game

You can do musical instruments or animal sounds. For animal sounds, make an animal noise and see if your toddler can guess it. Have them repeat the animal noise back to you.

If you need to hold up a picture of the animal when you make the sound, that’s fine, too. Or you can get down on the floor and act out the animal while making the noise. Then make sure to let them have a turn making the sounds as well. They always do the animal noise better, anyway.

A mother reading to her toddler.
Image used with permission by copyright holder


This is a parent favorite. Storytime and reading to your child really help with their listening skills. You can stop and ask your toddler questions along the way. Ask them what color the animal was or what the name of the man was and see if they remember. If there are pictures, then ask questions about what’s on the page.

Reading not only will develop their listening skills, but their vocabulary will be broadened, they will be learning their letters, and you’ll create some beautiful bonding moments with your mini human.

Building your toddler’s listening skills will not only get them to listen to you, but you’ll be preparing them for listening to friends they will make as they get older. As your child learns to listen better, they can improve their own communication. They’ll be better at comprehending and be able to adapt more during social interactions, especially when they start school.

If you want to learn how to teach a toddler to listen, it’s simply playing fun games with them. Following directions during games is the easiest way to teach your little one how to listen. We all know how easy it is to distract a toddler. But doing these five activities with your child will help them boost their listening skills and help you two have some quality time together.

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Dannielle Beardsley
Dannielle has written for various websites, online magazines, and blogs. She loves everything celebrity and her favorite…
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