8 steps to take when your toddler says no

When your toddler starts to say “no”, it’s time to understand this important milestone. By Samantha Toweel-Moore

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By Samantha Toweel-Moore

It’s time to celebrate when your toddler says “No”. She has discovered she can assert her independence. Her defiance tests your reaction to her unique preferences. Your role is to let her develop self-reliance without losing your guiding authority and respect.

Here’s how:

  • Know your goal. Don’t stop her from saying “No”. Facilitate her independence in a manageable way.
  • Teach her what’s negotiable and what isn’t. She must know you’re in charge, but that you respect her and will give her space. For example, getting dressed is non-negotiable but you may want to let her choose the colour of her shorts.
  • Give her warning before ending an activity. If you suddenly interrupt what she’s doing, she’ll feel her rights have been stepped on.
  • Don’t panic. Her uncooperative manner means she’s developing a sense of control – not that you’ve lost yours.
  • Manage her emotions with distraction. When, for example, you whip the metal knife out of her hand before she bangs it on a glass bowl say, “I know you feel cross that you can’t drum on the glass. It will break and you’ll get hurt. Here’s something you can drum with instead.”
  • Allow her the opportunity to learn. She only has time and the length of your patience to learn. She is doing her best to grow into her new role and will appreciate kind, firm instruction as she presses forward.
  • Turn chores into games. To gain cooperation for routine chores, make a game of it. For example, instead of saying: “Let’s clean up,” say “let’s place all the treasure (toys) in the basket before the pirates come.”
  • Remember this stage will pass. Your patience will go a long way in investing in your child’s development.
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