Getting a young child, especially a rambunctious, stubborn, or highly independent toddler to focus long enough to get through a story can be difficult—although not entirely impossible.
Here are some tips to make reading time more fun for your child and for you.
Sitting Still Is Not Required
A toddler, sit still? If that thought brings laughter (or wishfullness), then reading a book to your child in a more unorthodox way may be just the key. No where is there a rule that says reading should be done while sitting—read in what ever manner works for you and your child.
If this means reading a few pages and letting them run off to burn some energy, then take those few pages when and where you can. Encourage them to try to act out the book as you read it—this may be a far more interesting game than sitting in your lap to look at pictures.
Read More: When and How to Read to Your Toddler
Toddlers Love Repetition
It’s why they repeat the same question over and over (and over and over) again—their brains are wired for repetition at this stage. Repetition is what helps them to grasp and understand new concepts (like potty training). What does this mean for story time? It may mean your child’s lack of interest is more about which book you selected to read. Allow them to pick and even if they pick the same book again and again, read it every time.
They Also Can’t Make Up Their Minds
This goes beyond indecision on using the red cup or the blue—it also translates into their play. And may explain why their room or play area is always a mess. Toddlers often move from one activity to the next and back again in a short amount of time. So, when it comes time to read, get in as many pages as your child’s attention span allows, but leave it out. They may want to come back to the book later for more of the story.
Short Attention Spans
Sure, we just mentioned that, but it is important to bear repeating. Toddlers have short attention spans. Pick a short book, you can even try for two or three books—multiple stories can help reduce frustration or feelings of upset when they can’t decide on just one story. Eventually, they will hone their focus and their attention spans will get longer—and story time/bedtime may just get easier. (Maybe. We can’t guarantee this).
Make It A Routine
Regardless of when you read to your child—stick to patterns and routines. The repetition of a daily routine is highly beneficial for children, their development, and their behavior. Even if they are distracted while you read, continuing to read at the same time every day (like at bedtime) is soothing and a reminder that books are a part of their day.