Tips for decreasing the number of times your child says the word NO.
Toddler's says "no" because they are learning to assert themselves. This phase often comes on suddenly. You're not alone if you're perplexed over your toddler's new-found defiance. Good news is that it can disappear as quickly as it appeared. In the meantime, try these coping strategies.
Give them a choice
Offering your toddler limited choices when you can is one way to avoid a showdown. For instance, when it doesn't matter what she wears, you could ask, "Do you want to wear your purple leggings or your red leggings today?" Or, ask him "Would you like juice or milk?" To overcome your toddler's refusal to help with tidying up, you could say "Do you want to put away your blocks or your crayons?"
Two choices are enough at this stage. You can use this technique for everything from getting dressed to solving play-date disputes. For example, "Do you want to play nicely with Jack, or do you want to play by yourself?"
Counting works sometimes, too. You could say, "I'm going to count to 10 and then you choose, or I'll choose for you." Your toddler will probably become decisive once you start the countdown. But save this technique for last resorts, because it loses its power if you use it too often.
Try saying, "Do you want to get out of the car now or play for two minutes and then get out?" Either way, they know they are getting out of the car.
Replace the word No when talking to your toddler
One of the reasons your toddler says "No" a lot is because her vocabulary is much more limited than yours. Your toddler may also be fond of "no" partly because she constantly hears the word directed at her. If that's the case, try to cut back on your own use of the word and find alternatives to "no" whenever possible.
One tactic is to replace "no" with phrases more specific to the situation in hand. For example, "It's not safe to play on the stairs," "We pet the cat," or "Use your indoor voice, please."
Despite your best efforts to avoid or distract, there will be times when you have a showdown with your toddler. If she stops in the middle of the road and refuses to move, for example, you'll have to move her pretty quickly.
But keeping her safe isn't the only reason to be firm. While your toddler has a will of her own, things will quickly get out of hand if she's allowed to exert it too much. For instance, when she protests because it’s bedtime and she's already had her bath and stories, it’s fine to overrule her. You could say, "I'm sorry, but it is." If she asks why you can even pull rank and tell her, "I'm your mommy, that's why." Don't feel bad about this. It's important for your toddler's sense of security that she sees you making the decisions and sticking to them.
Jocelyn Debick, Director accessAbilities First Step Early Intervention
- BA in Early Childhood and Elementary Education, Carlow University, Pittsburgh, PA
- Infant Mental Health Graduate Certificate, Chatham University, Pittsburgh, PA
- Experience includes 25 years in Early Intervention, Early Childhood Education; advocate high quality early care and education services
accessAbilities First Steps Early Intervention provides a variety of home-based services for children ages birth to age 3. These services are designed to foster learning and growth during the most important developmental stages as well as provide support for the family as a whole.
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