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Why Do Toddlers Say No? How to Handle Their New Favourite Word

By: Rowen

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You may have heard the word no a lot recently. Far more than any parent would like to. Has your child developed a sudden and intense disliking of everything, including even the most simple of requests? The answer, we are sure you will love to hear, is also no.

When toddlers reach the age of 2, they begin to realise that they are independent from their parents, and have their own opinions that they can now assert. This can be very difficult for parents to manage, as they find themselves battling their toddler throughout the day over tasks that were once easy. Today we will share with you our top tips on how to handle the no phase, so that you are guaranteed to hear the occasional “yes”.

Ask Yourself, Could This Be a No?

It is very easy to quickly say no to your toddler, however, although there are times that a no may be defiant, there are many more where they can be a good opportunity to learn boundaries and limitations. For example, if your toddler is saying no to a cuddle from an adult, do not force them. Allowing children the ability to say no from time to time, will help them develop a strong sense of bodily autonomy that will support them later in life. In addition, when a no may be appropriate, it can help your toddler develop a sense of self-control and enhance confidence. 

Play Would You Rather

When a no is not an option, offering your child a set of choices can be a simpler way to resolve the issue. For example, when getting dressed, your child may say no to the outfit you have picked for them. Instead of persisting, choose another set of clothes and ask them, which one would you rather wear? By involving them in the decision making process, you are far more likely to have success.

Provide an Explanation

Just as the word no becomes a permanent feature of your child’s vocabulary, the word why also makes a strong appearance. The phrase, “because I told you so” may feel gratifying at first, but by offering your child simple, clear explanations for why you are enforcing a decision, you will help them to become better communicators themselves. 

No is often a stand-in word for frustration, when children do not yet have the skills to convey their emotions. By providing children with tools to express their needs and wants, either through teaching them Makaton or easy, digestible phrases, you may see the no phase come to an end sooner rather than later.

Time for Your Biggest Smile

One of the best, most tried and tested ways that you can avoid a no from your toddler is by distracting them with a giggle. This may mean that you have to look silly in public, but a dance here, or a playful tickle there can make your toddler forget what they were even opposing in no time. 

In addition, you can use your toddler’s desire to imitate you to your advantage. If distracting your toddler doesn’t work, try to get them to copy you or an older sibling. They didn’t want to eat fruit today? Have them sit next to you as you eat yours and tell them how tasty it is and their mind may sway in your favour.

Reward good behaviour

It is important that you reward the behaviour that you like to see, by offering praise to your little one or using positive body language. Try to respond with praise straight away, so that they can connect your reaction to their behaviour. Creating a reward system such as a sticker chart is also an effective way of setting clear expectations and recording when goals have been accomplished. 

 

Overall, we hope that this has helped you to better understand why toddlers say no and how to react when they do. If you would like more information on our approach to learning and behaviour, see below:

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