How to Handle NO from your Kid!

Between the ages of 15 and 30 months, a toddler begins to realize that he is a person who has his own will and his own mind. As this realization sets in, a child begins to discover his independence and begins to practice asserting this independence to all who will listen. It’s this stage of development that is usually marked by a child singing a seemingly continuous chorus of a loud and proud “no.”

While it’s important for a child to understand that the parent is the person of authority, it’s also important to let a child engage in self-discovery by allowing him to assert his feelings and to learn that it can be okay to say no. At this stage of development, when vocabulary is limited, a toddler often doesn’t have other expressions to show his displeasure, so inevitably “no” becomes his simple favorite.

So how can parents navigate this important developmental stage? 

1. Offer the child choices, but if he doesn’t make a choice, let him know that you will make the choice for him. Instead of asking the child to get dressed, ask if he wants to put on his shirt or pants first. If he doesn’t choose, choose for him and help him get dressed. This provides an opportunity for self-discovery balanced with parental authority. Your goal is to convey the message that the choice you make is yours, but making a choice is not optional. 
 2. Set limits. Toddler hood can be a time of testing. Kids will push the boundaries and say no as long as they are allowed to.  

3. Limit your use of no. Look for alternative ways that convey no. This will help to build your child’s vocabulary and can gurgle the theory that children say what they hear. Instead of saying “Don’t Bang” opt for alternatives like “We don’t Bang” 

4. It’s a good thing when a child feels that it is safe to say no, so when it’s reasonably acceptable, allow his no to stand. Perhaps he doesn’t want a midday snack. Don’t fight about it. Let him learn about making choices and living with the consequences of his choices.

 5. Avoid laughing or grinning when a child says no. As cute as it may be the first time, resist the urge to laugh. It only reinforces the behavior.

 6. Keep a positive attitude. Look at this stage as an intense time of development and help your child maximize his learning experience. Remember this phase is temporary.

7. Use distraction. Toddlers can be easily distracted. If they are playing with an item that you want them to give up, offer an alternative. If you’re trying to get an uncooperative kid out of the house, give him something to investigate outside so he’ll come along.

Our children will grow up into a world where the word "no" will be important to their own well-being. That's why the best parental advice ever about saying "no" to children is to teach them at an early age, through your own example, how important the word "no" can be in their lives and how to say it .

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  2. Well captured thoughts and conveyed. I am very much gonna try the "options" part to the next kid i find, giving me an adamant NO.
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