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Getting Your Child to Tune In

If saying --or shouting --instructions to your toddler doesn't get him to listen, try singing what you want him to do.

Many kids can process instructions better when they're set to a melody --you tend to sing words more slowly than you speak them and to repeat song phrases, giving toddlers more chances to hear directions, says Kate Gfeller, Ph.D., a professor of music therapy at the University of Iowa in Iowa City.

Take your cue from Barney's \"Clean up, clean up, everybody do your share\" song: Without the tune, the words don't entice kids to help out, but with it, they seem delighted to pitch in. Try singing "eat your peas," "sit on the potty," and "hold my hand."

And if you don't sound like Christina Aguilera? To your child, there's no better voice in the world than yours.