5 tips for toddlers that love to say ‘NO’

Kinderling News & Features

When your tot reaches their independent (read: defiant), only-says-no stage, you’ll want to rip your hair out. Once-simple daily tasks like putting on clothes, eating breakfast and hopping into the car become a full-blown war between parent and child. And the certainty with which they shout the two-letter word is intense!

The fact of the matter is, this is completely normal for all toddlers as they build their confidence and find a place in the world. And while, it’s a time period you can expect, here are a few ideas for minimising the negativity.

1. Think about your speech

Don’t you hate it when articles like this hold up a mirror and ask you to look at how you might be influencing your child’s behaviour? I hear you, that’s annoying! But when it comes to speech and language development, toddlers really are learning through repetition and the interaction they have with the adults in their life, so please bear with me.

Without thinking about it, you may actually be saying ‘no’ a lot these days and using more negative language yourself. “Don’t touch that.” “Stop that.” “I said no!” are just some of the things we often say when parenting little ones. It’s understandable. I get it and I do it too with my own. But if you are sick of hearing the N-word come out of your own mouth, you can try rephrasing things in a positive way, so your toddler also hears it less.  

So instead of saying, “No more screaming” you could say, “Please use your quiet voice” or “Don’t climb the chair” could be rephrased to, “Off the couch please. Put your feet on the ground.”

2. Avoid using questions

If ‘no’ is your toddler’s default answer to everything, try stating things instead of asking. For example, rather than asking, “Would you like a bath?” you could simply say, “It’s time for a bath!” and not give the option of telling you they don’t want one.

3. Offer alternatives

If given a choice, your toddler will feel like they have some control and this may alleviate the desire to be so assertive. You could try giving two choices so as not to overwhelm them. For example, “Would you like a banana or an apple?” 

4. Allow some independence

Your tot will often scream “nooooo!” because they’re frustrated at having little or no autonomy. Try giving some control and you may find they don’t feel the need to say “No!” so much. This could be letting them wear a princess outfit instead of the sensible shorts and t-shirt you’d picked out to wear to the shops, or letting them climb into the car seat instead of being forcibly plonked in it and strapped in.

5. Remember it’s a phase

If all else fails, try to remember the ‘no stage’ is something they’ll grow out of and it won’t last forever. Just like the ‘needing to be rocked off to sleep phase,’ this too shall pass. Hang in there!

This article was originally published on Babyology.