When 'no' Is Your Child's Favorite Word

What’s happened to your sweet little cherub?

Posted Oct 10, 2014

What’s happened to your sweet little cherub? Your little two year old fellow used to be all cuddly. Now he says no all day long simply refusing to co-operate. He even says no when he means yes. Did someone cast an evil spell on him when he was asleep?

Would you laugh if I told you that the word no is actually a sign of positive growth for your child? She has discovered that she is a separate individual with her own desires. No, is a declaration of independence.

Developmentally, new infants tend to feel a psychological oneness with their parent. The child cries, the parent feeds him. Slowly he discovers his hands and toes and begins to explore your face. He gains the ability to sit up on his own and crawl away from you. Verbalizing the names, mommy, daddy, and sister further reinforces that he is a separate person. He learns early on that you are in charge and that when you say no, he must stop and listen.

As her verbal abilities develop, one day she uses the word no just like you. She quickly realizes that this word now gives her the power. It feels good for your child to assert herself, so she keeps trying it out. She has not built up the vocabulary to tell you her feelings, so she resorts to this simple one word answer. While this discovery is blissful for her, it creates huge challenges for you. Even changing her diaper becomes a huge undertaking. The following are some helpful ways to handle her new achievement:

Keep in mind that your child is not fighting you personally. He is just asserting his wishes.

Acknowledge her wish. When you say it’s time to leave the park, and she says, “No,” you can respond, “I can see that you don't want to leave the park. You love the park.” These words will help her calm down because you are acknowledging her wishes. If you immediately start arguing, she will feel disregarded and will fight you. But that’s not all you need to do.

Give him an objective reason for giving up his desire. For example, “We have to go home because we need to walk Ginger.”

Remind her that she will have her pleasure again. For instance at the end of a play date when she is fighting leaving, you can say, “Let's set up another play date for next Tuesday.

Motivate him forward. It is hard for kids to separate from a pleasurable activity. If you excite your child about a future event, he will be more willing to make the transition . For example, you can encourage him to leave school by saying, “When we get home you can finish your new puzzle.”

If she says no instead of yes, you can gently correct her. For instance, you might say, “I think you really want to take a bath.”

Over time your child will not need to say no all the time. He will feel he is respected for his individuality and feel capable of using other words to express his feelings.