The Art of Using No – with a Toddler

As children grow they become more and more curious which leads to more opportunities for them to get into things they shouldn’t. For the majority of parents (including myself), the first reaction is to start using no. But is that really the best way to handle a situation with a toddler who is almost constantly getting into things? Does the word no eventually become ineffective?

I did some research to determine if there were better ways to manage children’s behavior, check it out below!

Save “No” for those extremely important occasions.

If your child is about to reach for the hot oven, you obviously want to yell no, and move his hand away. But if you’re child is about to dump out a bucket of blocks, choosing a different method of stopping the child might be better. My favorite method? Redirection! Whenever Emmett is about to do something that won’t hurt him, but that he shouldn’t do, I offer him another play option. 9 times out of 10 it will stop the behavior in its tracks and he’ll happily move onto something new.

Give Options

Your child loves bouncing a ball, and you find yourself shouting, No! No! No! Instead of just say no and offering no better options, suggest that instead of bouncing or throwing the ball, that they roll it or you all head outside to bounce. Giving your young child the ability to make simple choices like these fosters independence and competence [WebMD parenting]. Plus you’re ensuring that your use of “no” doesn’t become ineffective.


Toddler’s Want What They Want

David Walsh, Ph.D., author of No: Why Kids — Of All Ages — Need to Hear It and Ways Parents Can Say It, explains that it doesn’t matter whether your child wants a cookie and you want them to have a carrot, a toddler wants what they want. Instead of using no, firmly and warmly offer them a healthy snack (like carrots with peanut butter) and stick with it, despite your child’s protests. This way your child still gets an extra treat but it is something healthy. [10 Ways to Say “No”]

 Offer Explanations

Your child loves reaching for the outlets, doesn’t matter whether something is plugged in or not, if she sees it, she reaches for it. Instead of immediately reacting with a NO!, explain why she shouldn’t be touching it. Try, “Outlets are for plugs only, not toys or fingers. If you stick your fingers in the outlet you could be badly hurt.” It may take a few tries but eventually you’re child will understand you and will stop reaching for the outlet.

Create a Diversion

If your child loves playing with the TV remotes and it doesn’t matter how many times you say no, remove the child from the situation and offer another toy to play with. Try to make it a toy that is equally as stimulating, since your goal is to keep the child from running back to the remotes, you don’t want them getting bored quickly. [belly belly]

 And Finally (and most importantly) – Acknowledge and Cheer for the Good Things

When your child seems to actually understand what you tell them not to do, reward them with cheers, claps and smiles. Toddlers inherently want to please their parents, so when they see that if they don’t jump on the bed, mommy gives them a huge smile and a hug, they’re more likely to stick with the right behavior.

Emmett is just now starting to understand what no means, we’ve gone through a lot of the above tips. Some have worked on the first try, others took more effort but either way, we try using no sparingly.

Your turn!

Any tips or tricks on how to avoid using no?

To see some of my other tips and tricks, click here.

3 Responses to The Art of Using No – with a Toddler

  1. Mccleaf says:

    Honestly, this is a fascinating post which I’ve found while searching the internet thru Yahoo for specific keyword Baby Nursery Bedding. I actually like what you’ve prepared here.

    Cheers and good luck.

  2. Cassie says:

    Thank you for linking up with us!
    My husband and I once read a book talking about how many times a child hears no and how that plays a role in their development. We always try to put things into the positive. Instead of saying “Don’t drag your coat.” We try to remember to say “Pick up your coat.” Reserving no for important times helps them to understand it is serious!

Leave a reply

Copyright © 2013 Baby Doodah // Designed By Bumble + Buzz Design