How to Get a Toddler Out of the House

Mother putting on toddler's shoesSpring has sprung (or will be soon)! You may be looking forward to packing up and getting back out. Whether to the park, the grocery store, or grandma's, there are many places to go.

This article isn't about where to go with your toddler. It's about how to get out the door with them. If you have a toddler, chances are you know what I mean. You're dressed, perhaps even with make-up on, the bag is packed, car keys have been found and now? Well, now, it's time to get the toddler ready and out the door. However, your toddler may have other ideas.

Toddlers are wonderful little creatures. Most often, they are exuberant learners excited about the smallest discoveries. They also are learning (and testing) their independence (No! No! No!). And, last but certainly not least, they are learning to express their feelings. All of this is wonderful and typical development. However, this can sidetrack them just when you want them to stay on task.

Still waiting to get out the door? Perhaps you're reading this article as your munchkin is toddling around avoiding getting dressed. There is hope. Here are a few tricks to throw in “your bag.” With them, hopefully, you'll be able to throw that bag over your shoulder and get out the door!

First of all, when trying to navigate a child through daily pottying (or diapering), dressing, teeth brushing and, last but not least, coat wearing, don't go head to head. Pick and choose your battles. Most power struggles (I want this, they want that) will end with someone (or the both of you) in tears.

Instead, try a few of these tactics:

  • Make it a game. Does counting drive your child? Young toddlers are just starting to understand the concepts of imaginary play and games. Such words as “let's see if we can get your pants on by the time we count to 10” sometimes works magic. If not numbers, how about being animals? Does physical movement drive your child? Hop or tip toe from place to place in your home, getting a few things done along the way.
  • Sing your way through. Whether you can actually carry a tune or not doesn't matter. Kids like music and a tune about socks, shoes, and teeth brushing (even if it isn't the catchiest melody) might just be enough of a distraction to get a few things accomplished.
  • Use a motivator (i.e. stickers). Sometimes, we all want a reward. Choose something that will be a great “prize” for your child's efforts. Be sure to choose something good for their development (stickers vs. sweets, one more story, etc.).
  • Distract and/or redirect. If nothing else is working, distraction and/or redirection might be another way to go. Consider hair combing while looking out a window or having your child brush one of their toy's teeth while theirs is brushed by you. If you can tag team with your significant other, all the better. For instance, have one person read a story while the other gets clothes on. Divide and conquer.

No matter how you do it, keep it positive and keep it fun. If you do, you're sure to have success, even if it is later rather than sooner!

And, if all else fails, perhaps it's time to just stay home!


What do you think?

How to Get a Toddler Out of the House

Tell us what you think!


  1. CM says:

    I have a problem with my daughter not wanting to walk or even stand on the ground or sidewalk outside. She walks and runs all over the place indoors but she is terrified of setting her feet on the ground outside. She only wants to be carried or strolled. Even in parks she wants to be carried or held only and she loves it when you put her on the swing. But she cries so loudly anytime we try to let her stand or walk outside, even when we hold her hand. I know this is just a phase (hopefully) but does anyone have any tips on how to get her to enjoy walking outdoors? Thanks.

  2. Christa says:

    these are very helpful tips. I am just getting into this “stage”

  3. Jennie says:

    This article has helped quite a bit. My son loves the counting games.

  4. mommy nhoj says:

    I am having difficulty changing the diaper in general. That began when she learned to roll over. But going out is something she likes. Well for now. She’s 10months. We just noticed that she gets tired when out for a long time and when we got home would go straight to her play area. Or if placed inside the crib, she’ll hug her pillow. I might encounter these moments soon and I will keep this article in handy.

  5. Lindsay says:

    I never have any problems getting my daughter to go bye bye.

  6. Nancy says:

    Always have rules

  7. sheenaholman says:

    Parenting and teaching are very similar. We use same tatics in preschool.

  8. JamJam says:

    For my half sister i made a chart and everytime i could get her out the door to school on time and without tantrums or her giving me too hard of a time she would get a star at the end of the week if she got her star for every day she got a prize (i took her to a movie, or out to icecream)it worked like a charm!!!

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