Distraction Techniques
For Your Toddler

This page has a variety of toddler distraction techniques that really work. They will:

  • Divert your child's attention from the potential cause of a tantrum etc.

  • Help them get over something that is upsetting them.

Distraction Techniques Are Something Every Parent Or Carer Should Have Pre-planned And Ready To Go

Toddlers have such short attention spans, which makes diverting their attention easy.

Important: Make sure you vary the ways in which you distract your toddler.

The mind of a child of this age is often like a grasshopper, so observe if your tactics are wearing a bit thin.

Animal Impressions 

Children can do animal noises (woof, baa etc) before they can speak. Move round the room as an animal that your child knows, eg a dog and start woofing. Ask 'What am I?' (give prompts if needed:

"A cat or a dog?

Is it a DOG?"), 'Can you say woof woof?' If she hasn't already started copying you, encourage her to be a dog too.

Who Is It ? What Is It ?

Hide all but part of a puppet or picture behind the door/chair, under the table etc. Look really surprised, point to it and say 'Who/what is it?

Prompt with 'Is it your teddy/Daddy?' etc and slowly reveal the rest of the object/picture. Younger toddlers can nod and/or say yes here.


An oldie, but one that never fails. Vary it by putting on different expressions as you reveal your face: surprised, ecstatic, sad, asleep etc etc.


If you have one to hand, a puppet is one of the best distraction techniques that can easily divert a toddler's attention. Make it do something rather than just talk - it could ask the child to help it look for something, or ask for a hug. The more involved your little one is, the better.

Which Hand ?

Partially conceal a small object (like a spoon) in one fist. Present both closed fists to your toddler and ask "Guess which hand the spoon's in?"

For younger toddlers who struggle with saying the words, it is best to have another spoon on the table to show them. In this way, she can point to spoon#2 as her answer. If she is not sure, give her spoon#2 and say (with a great air of mystery) 'Do you think it's a ....SPOON?'

When she agrees that it is, open your fist and get really excited. Say "What a clever girl!"

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