Let Your Toddler Hear You Gossiping (About Him!)

Dr. Harvey Karp has many great ideas to inspire toddlers and their parents. One of my favorite strategies is Gossiping. Toddlers love to hear about their effects on others. Tell his stuffed animals or his “lovey” what a great listener he was, or how he ate a new food, and you will have an audience that can’t wait to show you what to talk about next.

It goes something like this: notice some progress your toddler made toward a goal ( toilet training, sharing, etc.) and find a moment to use a louder voice and some over-the-top acting to tell the teddy bear what you saw and how amazing/terrific/grown-up that was. Lay it on pretty thickly, and never acknowledge that you know your child heard every word. You can even mention to teddy that you hope it happens again soon, or that you plan to tell other family members later.

Children at this age are not always tolerant of criticism, and they sometimes even feel pressured when they receive direct praise. A young child can think that if they don’t perform the same way next time, they might have “failed’. But hearing gossiped praise is often a double bonus. Toddlers hear you say something positive about them, and know someone else has heard it too!

Gossiping Variation: Gossip to another person about another sibling or even a toy, mentioning an action or skill that you want to encourage in your toddler. You might tell your mother that you saw your older child cleaning up, and how grown-up you think they are. Or how happy you were when they shared a toy or a snack. If your toddler was present when it occurred, all the better. Again, do not directly acknowledge that your child is listening to this gossip.

Think you child is too young to absorb it all? Even the younger toddlers will get the general idea that you are saying something positive about them. Your tone and your gestures or facial expression will convey more than you might think. It is never too early to feel good about yourself!

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