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BFBN: Teaching Your Child to Come to You When Called

Today is Babywise Friendly Blog Network Day! Our guest post is from Valerie over at She is a mother of 4, and writing today on teaching your child to come. Caroline is 1.5 years old now, and we are teaching her this concept. I asked her to write on this topic because I sometimes feel like we are failing to teach this concept well! LOL! I was happy to read the seasoned advice from a mother of four, and also felt reassured when I realized we are doing all of the below mentioned things! Hope you all enjoy the read!

I am guest posting today over at Team Cartwright. My post is about letting dads do things their awesome way! As mamas, we all occasionally mention to our hubby’s how to do something. This post is all about trying to let dad parent in his own way. It doesn’t have to be our way or the highway!

Teaching Your Child to Come to You When Called


by Valerie Plowman

“When do they stop running the other way when you tell them to come?” my frazzled friend asked me one day. She had just told her three year old to come to her and the three year old literally ran in the opposite direction. 

The day does not come that your child will just start coming to you when called unless you take some measures to ensure your child will come when called. Here is what you need to know to get your child to come when called.

1-Have expectations and consequences in all areas of life.

If you frequently give instructions, get ignored, and do nothing to follow through and be sure your child obeys, then you can’t realistically expect your child to listen when you tell her to come to you. So your first step is to make sure you require obedience in general.

2-Teach your child what you expect.

Children often need to be taught what obedience looks like. We often forget that as adults. Children are new to the world and don’t know everything we know. The often need things spelled out for them so they know that when you say X, you expect YZ from them. So teach your child, at a time of non-conflict (so not right after you have called for her to come), “When I call to you and tell you to come to Mommy, I want you to come to me right away.”

3-Expect your child to obey.

Once you have taught your child what is expected, expect that your child will obey. If your child does not obey, have consequences in place. Do not say, “Oh well. She is only two so she is going to do what she wants.” She can obey. She won’t be perfect, but she can be pretty good. Children live up to expectations. If you expect obedience, your child will be more likely to be obedient. 

4-Say the child’s name before you give instruction.

Parents often call out instructions without being sure thy have attention first. Say the child’s name and wait for a response. When the child has acknowledged you, give the instruction. Bonus points for eye contact if in the same room.

5-Speak calmly and kindly, but not with a question.

Say, “Brinley….[yes mommy!]…come here please.” Not “Brinley….[yes mommy!]…Time to come here, okay?” or “Brinley….[yes mommy!]…will you please come here?” Do not ask a question unless you are okay with a “No thanks!” response. 

6-Thank your child for coming. 

When your child comes when called, respond with a “Thank you for listening to mommy!”

7-Have a consequence when your child doesn’t listen.

You want to have a consequence when your child doesn’t listen. It could be a timeout. It could be the loss of TV time that day. It might be the loss of the toy that is distracting her. It might mean she doesn’t get to walk herself and has to be carried. For some children, a stern look might be enough. Be consistent and be sure your child’s behavior changes in the future. If you don’t see a change in the negative behavior, your consequence isn’t working.

8-Know you will be tested.

Children are little scientists. They are the best kind of scientists. They aren’t looking to sway the results in any direction; they only want truth. They just want to know what makes the world tick, and you are a huge part of that world. “What will mom do if I tell her no? What will mom do if I ignore her?” Your child will test you. Be prepared for it and be prepared to respond. 

Valerie is the mother of four and blogs at

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