Help! My toddler refuses to read

After my earlier post on why should children read, a friend shared that her 3 year old daughter refuses to sit to be read to. I’m sure some of us face this situation too. If we start reading to our kids from a young age, say below 1, we usually will not have this problem. Here are some ideas that you can try if your child refuses to read.

1) Go with their interest

Get books on topics which they are currently interested in. If they are into toy cars, read them books about cars. You can start will books that have lots of pictures of cars to pique their interest. You can slowly progress to books with more words. If they are crazy about Disney princesses or Thomas the train at the moment, get them books about that. Once they get used to reading, gradually introduce other books.

2) Change the environment

If you have been trying without success to read to your child at home, why don’t you try a change of environment. Take her to the park bench downstairs or the library. Sometimes all you need is something different to break the negative association.

Kate loves her books

3) Hype it up

Before you sit your child down and open the book, you can start talking about it in a really excited manner. The same way you would probably tell her about going to Disneyland. Say in an excited way, “Wow look what I’ve got from the library! It’s your favourite. You love trains, don’t you. Now, let’s see what sorts of trains we’ve got in here..” Your child will be curious and will pick up on your excitement and she will come over and sit with you to find out what is so fascinating.

4) Audio

You can borrow some audio books from the library and play it for your child to listen to, perhaps in the car or as background reading while they play. After getting used to listening to the audio CDs, they may be more willing to hear you read to them.

5) Adjust your expectations

We may think that children should sit nicely and quietly and be read to. However, many boys are very active and find it very hard to sit still when they are young. Some girls are like that too. #3 is like that. She has to do some action in order to concentrate better. So even if your child is walking around or fiddling, just continue to read to her. She will be taking it all in even though she may not look like it.

6) Take it slow

Don’t expect too much. Perhaps you can start off with 10 minutes. If your child manages to sit and listen for that length of time, give her a big hug and praise her. Gradually increase by 5 minutes.

Sane tip: Don’t beat yourself up if your child refuses to read. She will pick up on your tension and it will be a losing battle. Just relax. Try the tips I mentioned above and hopefully it will work! Give yourself a pat on the back for every little improvement šŸ™‚

Save tip: When the children are young I prefer to borrow books from the library. You don’t know what your child likes to read and may end up with a whole load of books which she refuses to read. I only start to buy them books when they are in Primary school and they know their preferences.

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~