Children learn from a very young age that the word “no” has some power. This is one of the first words they hear from us, A LOT! Even if we are mindful of our tonation and our body language, kids still sense the power in that word.
Saying no is normal for toddlers. It’s a natural, healthy way for them to feel in control.
Sometimes, using the word no is more of sharing their feelings rather than saying a command. What they are trying to convey is:
I can’t handle this right now.
I am overwhelmed.
I need some help.
I am not sure.
But how can we impact their usage of this word in our daily life?
Here are some strategies that might work in your favour and help you to hear the word “no” less from your child:
Check your daily vocabulary.
Children are like sponges. They absorb what they see and hear daily. How often you use the word “no” matters because it affects how many times they use it.
Practice some strategies to reduce the usage of this word, yourselves. To learn more, check out the article below.
We don’t need to say yes to every request that our children have but instead consider changing our approach when it comes to negative answers. Use positive sentences.
For example, instead of saying, “don’t throw your clothes on the floor.” you can say, “please, put your clothes in the hamper.” It is way more effective to tell them what we want them to do instead of what we don’t want them to do.
Be clear about the reasons behind your requests.
Children comprehend better once they hear the reasons behind your disagreement. There’s no need to give them all the details since it might do the opposite and confuse them. Instead, keep it simple and to the point. (You don't have to go into more information, a detailed explanation will make the child not listen to you or be confused.)
Pay attention to the child's good behaviour.
Giving prizes and promising rewards to our children to get them to do what we want is not effective in the long run. Instead, encouraging positive behaviour will show them that we appreciate their effort and see them.
Give them a choice.
We know that this works in many different scenarios. By giving them options, children feel that they are in control. They feel powerful and confident. For example, it’s dinner time. Our child is still playing and not ready to leave their toys. Instead of forcing them to leave what they are doing, give them a choice. “Would you like milk or water with your dinner?” what we are telling them is you are still the decision-maker here.
We should keep this choice practical and straightforward; also, be mindful of their age.
Empathy is key.
Once our children are faced with big emotions, it takes time for them to move from it and get calm. Our role would be to stay calm throughout this. Reflect on their feelings and support them through this. They need to know that we can handle their big emotions, and it’s okay to feel what they feel.
Show them that you understand them even though you might disagree with them.
Children love imitating their parents. They are like mirrors at times. We can use this to our advantage. This is one of the best ways to persuade our children to cooperate.
Gamify the process.
Sometimes instead of entering into a battle, which often ends with an unfavourable result, it’s best to use our creativity and play a game to reach our goal. This way, we have joyful memories and time instead of fighting and tears.
For example, it’s bath time, and they are not ready because they know the next step is bedtime. Change your role right away; become a bunny instead. Start jumping up and down and say, “Who wants to join me?” Tonight we are bunnies who will hop all the way to the bathtub.
There might be periods when all children say is “No” This is more common among toddlers and preschoolers. This can cause frustration for parents no matter how we hear it, whisper, shout, scream or just a head shake.
The best practice during challenging times would be to pause and step back when necessary instead of taking any hasty action. Once you gain this skill and become more aware, it will become easier to realize what you are bringing to the conflict on hand.
When it comes to a “non-negotiable” situation, the problems come because parents see only two options: give in to your child’s demands or discipline until your child bends to your will. But there are better ways. To learn more, check out the following article.
Remember, we shouldn’t be taking their “no” personally in any of these situations. Our children will eventually grow out of this stage as they become older. This “no” is all about them! They have realized that they can have an opinion and a desire to express themselves. It is a way of asserting themselves, and disagreeing with something is a powerful way to do that. They use it to show that they have a point of view.
If you find this useful or know someone who can find value in this, please help me spread the word.
Thanks for giving my work a slice of your attention!
Let’s go play!