Saying "NO!"

Katherine - posted on 02/14/2011 ( 1 mom has responded )

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It's amazing what you forget about parenting as your child gets older. Which is why as my daughter heads into the pre-school zone, and my 23-month-old greets the middle of his toddler years, I'm having to search my memory bank for those toddler parenting concepts.

After the third time I told my toddler "no" yesterday, I remembered that -- for some reason -- I wasn't supposed to say "no" to the tiny one. As I dug deep into my parenting tool box, I remembered the strategy to offer alternatives and to avoid a setup where you always have to say "no."

While this was relatively easy with his older sister, this little dude is all about being physical, and that can lead to danger. Which means my very chill "here's another toy" offer doesn't cut it when what he really wants is to pull the dog's hair right out of her head.

So I'm not ditching the "no" with this particular kid, and here's why.

We definitely use alternatives when it's relevant: "hot" for food he can't touch, or the lamp in my bedroom he loves to grab, and "yuck" for things picked up off the floor that he wants to put in his mouth. Surprisingly, "that's mommy's" works very well for my books, CDs, and DVDs. But alternatives to "no" aren't always readily available. Especially when it's a bad behavior that is unacceptable, like hitting or biting. I'm not about to give him a stick to bite on instead of his sister's arm. And we teach that hitting anything is unacceptable, not just mommy's face.

When I look him in the eye and say firmly "no," he gets that I'm serious. Also, all that alternative-giving can be exhausting. Some days I'm all about setting him up with endless "yes" entertainment. Other days I'm going to fall down in a heap if I have to come up with one more positive way to keep him from climbing on top of the dining room table.

Even Dr. Sears talks about the importance of saying "no," which can be difficult if you're an attachment parent, where the vibe is "yes." Of course he's also big on the alternatives, but states:

Whatever the terminology, saying 'no' is not a negative thing. It is a way of giving, and it takes a lot of effort. Mothers who can't say 'no' will have a big problem on their hands down the line. They become the moms that we see getting yanked around like puppets by their preschoolers.

When mothers begin saying 'no' at the appropriate times—confidently, firmly, and lovingly—It does not threaten the child. It might wrinkle him for a few minutes because he doesn't like hearing 'stop' or 'wait' or whatever the word might be that you pick.

So let's bring out the "no" again, parents. Someday (but totally not today) your kids will thank you.

Do you say "no" to your toddler?



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MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Rachel - posted on 02/15/2011

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Hi, yes i do! I agree with you that some kids respond better to alternative words since hearing "no" can spark a thought of rebellion into their little minds :P But if that is what they're after, it must be controlled at a reasonable age if you dont want your toddler to be in control of every situation. Saying no is easy for some peolpe- meaning it and being firm about the issue is what makes the word matter!
if you just say the word no, and then give in a few minutes later-they think its just a transitional word to yes! In other words- if they bug enough, they'll eventually get what they want.
My daughter is very smart for her age. she talks above average but most impressivley has the memory and physcial abilities of a much older child. She leanrs thigns very quickly and is very inependent (even during potty training she wiped and put ehr own diaper on! how odd is that :P) The issue I had with ehr ebing so smart and intuitive, was that she could tell when someone was going to cave easily ie: grandparents, aunts, uncles, sitters and even the staffat her play groups and play places! (they say she's too small for somehting and without being told no directly, she just turns and says "pleeeeaassee" sensing that someone might say that dreaded "n" word--and they give in! they let her go on the ride or whatever it may be and i noticed this at 14 months old. I had to put a stop to it and also reinforce that mommy and daddy are #1-what we say goes and no one can second guess us! She learned very quickly (2 weeks) to turn to us and try her cute "plllleeeeeeaassssee" tactic but we weren't falling for it! We say no and we mean no and there is no discussing it. She knows the difference betweena simple "no you cant have that right now" and a serious-stern "NO" for dangerous or out-right bad behaviour.
Childern need to learn and ehar no in all contexts- danger, discipline and just plain no is no! If parents dont just accept being stern, they will be wakled on later and although it may sem easier to say yes or just give in now- it'll be MUCh harder later on in life!
My daughter is amazing and behaves great even though we did have the attatchment parenting going on with co-sleepingon and off and me breastfeeding her. However, i was able to use our strong connection to my advantage to teach her and she was so close with me that she wanted to learn anything i wanted to show her :) Having a strong emotional bond with your child doenst mean you cant say no :P you're not the 'bad guy' you're their care-giver, teacher, and loving provider :) it just comes with the job :P

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