Help! My Toddler Won’t Hold My Hand! (How to Get your Toddler to Hold Your Hand)

Does your toddler refuse to hold your hand when walking outside? It becomes a safety issue when your toddler won’t hold your hand crossing the street or in a public setting. My daughter, Livvy, has a tactile sensitivity in her hands due to sensory processing disorder, so anything hand-over-hand has been a struggle from day one. My 2-year-old toddler won’t hold my hand some days still We have really been having a battle of wills trying to get her to hold hands outside. It may feel impossible, but with some practice and consistency, you can get your toddler to hold your hand without a fight!
Help! My Toddler Won't Hold My Hand! Get Your Toddler to Hold Your Hand

Start small.

We started holding hands walking from the living room to the kitchen. It’s a small distance and it’s in your own home, so the tantrum that inevitably happens is more manageable.  Make sure there is a reward for holding your hand to the kitchen or another room, like a coveted snack. At this stage, toddlers learn best by motivation.

Choose a key phrase and stick with it.

Make it a repercussion and don’t give in, not even once. Every time we go outside and I tell my daughter she has to hold my hand or we will go back inside. If she refuses to hold my hand, I give her one more chance and then I take her back inside kicking and screaming. Do it enough times and they will learn the negative consequence.
Help! My Toddler Won't Hold My Hand! Get Your Toddler to Hold Your Hand

Use positive reinforcement.

Spend time telling them how great they are doing holding your hand and how proud you are of them. Thank them for holding your hand.

Be consistent.

If you go and make your toddler hold your hand one day, and then don’t do it again for two weeks, you’re not going to be as successful as if you did it every day or at least a few times a week. Toddlers are notoriously impatient and their memories short.

Give an ultimatum.

If you have tried everything else and they are still resisting, give them an ultimatum. I tell my daughter, “You can hold Mommy’s hand, or you can go in the stroller.” She usually holds my hand though occasionally she actually chooses the stroller. As time has gone by, the chooses the stroller less and less. Either way, she’s safe and that’s what matters.
Whether your child has sensory issues, tactile sensitivity, autism, or is just plain stubborn strong-willed, consistency and repetition will win the day. It’s hard to hear your child cry, but remind yourself that it’s safety, which is non-negotiable! What worked to get your toddler to hold your hand?

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