Is Your Toddler Saying "NO!"

It Worked for Me:

When kids start saying "no" all the time, it's time to change questions. Instead of a yes-or-no question, make a statement: "It's time to get dressed." Give them a couple of choices. -- Dorethea Black of Elreno, Okla.

When children are learning new words, they will use them often and sometimes incorrectly. Your child could be saying "no" even when she means "yes." She also could be demonstrating her independence. Look at what she is saying "no" to. Are you asking her to put something away? Then let her know there is a reward if she does. Does she not want to eat? Then postpone her meal. -- A.B. of Arlington, Texas

Accept the fact that saying "No!" is what 2-year-olds do. To reduce the hostility, what worked with my two grandchildren (and now with my great-grandchild) is to give the child a choice: "Do you want to wear the red shirt or the blue shirt?" There will usually not be a debate about getting dressed. "Do you want corn flakes or Cheerios?" You're saying it's time for breakfast, and they are almost always ready to eat. Try to present only two choices, and make sure each is equally acceptable to you. Choosing gives the child a feeling of independence and of having some control over his environment. -- Rosalie Rosenfeld of Bradenton, Fla.

For a 2-year-old who insists on saying "No," try to ignore the word. When it hasn't been said for even a few minutes, say, "Thank you." Give a hug to show your appreciation. If he or she goes back to saying it, get busy and ignore the word and child. She can be told, "Mommy doesn't want to talk to you if you say 'no' all of the time." -- Carmel Redmon of Nashville, Tenn.

From Jodie: Two-year-olds are parrots and most likely will repeat anything they hear. How many times do we tell them "No!" They hear it from parents, grandparents, childcare workers, teachers and other children.

The people in Louisiana have a unique way to get around this: While living there I often heard "Ta-Ta" instead of "No!" when children did something they didn't want them to do. This almost completely eliminated the children from ever hearing the word "no."

I have simply made a statement and then diverted their attention: "This is your brother's favorite book (pick up the child or lead him to another book). Here's a book for you." Or "Do you want the black bear or the brown bear?" Add "thank you" to an answer or question: "No, thank you. It's not your time for a bath." It sounds silly, but it's much nicer to hear, "No, thank you!" instead of just plain "No!"

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