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How to get your toddler to stop saying “no”

Posted by mandyf on May 7, 2012

As every parent already knows or finds out quickly, toddlers love to say no, They love it so much they say it to almost everything, and while they don’t realize it, it is driving you up the wall! You can’t wait for they day they stop saying no and wonder if there is a way to break the habit, or if they will just say no forever. Take a deep breath and relax, there is a reason they say no and a way to help break the habit that is very simple and doesn’t include harsh methods to do so.

At about 18 months old the general rule of thumb is a child will have an 18 word vocabulary which is based on the words the hear most and are the easiest to mimic. Obviously they hear no often and it is exceedingly easy for them to repeat that word over and over as you have discovered. The good news is that 18 months is around the time most toddlers really begin absorbing new words and try to use them so relief is on the way.

The first step to ending the “no era” is to get the family to stop saying no around the toddler. The less they hear it the less likely they are to repeat it. How do you raise a toddler without saying no you might ask? You use other options. For example if it touches something they aren’t supposed to, and they constantly will, instead of saying no, say “don’t do that” or some similar phrase which conveys the same thought without using the word no. Be aware that even if you say no in conjunction with other words like “no touch” or “no eat” your child is still hearing no and will mimic that. Instead of baby talking, use phrase more like “do not touch” or “do not put in your mouth.” You avoid saying no and directly expose them to more words so this is a winning formula.

Another great tip is to avoid asking yes or no questions as you will keep hearing no. For example rather than asking “do you want to put your shoes on?” choose something which removes the option of saying no. Try asking things like “do you want to put on your right shoe or left shoe first?” What this further does as in the above example is it gives you the option to teach your toddler new words while breaking the no habit. As you put their shoes on you make them aware of left and right. Eventually you will notice that even if they can’t get the word out, they will begin identifying left and right.

The big key is to use statements that provide your toddler with choices, they simply adore choices and you will notice they use the word no less often if you provide them with options. If your toddler still says no or fails to make a choice, just ignore the “no” they supply and keep moving forward. For instance if they fail to respond to “do you want apple juice?” just proceed by saying “mommy/daddy will get you some apple juice.” If they really don’t want it they won’t drink it and you will no they are at least comprehending the use of the word no better.

Just remember that a toddler constantly saying no to everything is a phase. With each passing day the absorb more and will soon begin using other words which will at times equally drive you nuts. It won’t last forever as by the time they are three they will calm down from a personality standpoint and have a much larger vocabulary, and by the time they are a teen they will have an expansive vocabulary and more than likely just shrug at you which is another phase altogether.


2 Responses to “How to get your toddler to stop saying “no””

  1. Great post. Focing on what you want your toddler to do, and giving them choices has been an incredibly helpful strategy. My favorite phrase: instead of saying, “Don’t touch,” I say, “Eyes only.” Works like a charm.

  2. Ah my favorite topic 🙂 – At the age of 18 months, a toddler is developing his will power. Saying no is part of becoming who he is. A toddler saying no is a good thing, it means he is developing him self as an individual. The more a toddler is saying no, the stronger the individual will be when he grows up. It comes together with standing up on his feet and start walking, it is around that same age. So if we want to see our children stand up (for themselves) – we also need to cherish the NO’s that come with it. Saying no is their way to become grounded in society. Don’t pass it off as something negative.

    On the other hand, from a grown up perspective, saying NO to a toddler, literally, can bring down his self-esteem. Hearing NO can make him feel rejected as who he is. He will feel the no as a no to his core being. Am I being a no? Solution: instead of saying what a toddler cannot do, simply state what is required. When you tell somebody what not to do, he or she will likely remember the topic, instead of the no. If I tell you NOT to think about a pink elephant, would you not think about a pink elephant? Visualize what you want the toddler to do. Tell him: stop at the end of the street, instead of: don’t cross the street. And visualize him stopping, it will work wonders.

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