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When you have a child in the house, your days are filled with some heart-melting coos and aahs until the baby begins to speak. One of the simplest words babies pick up early on is “no”, which when uttered for the first time, is music to parents’ ears. However, repetitive use of the word might put you in a tight spot, especially when you want the child to do his regular activities. If you’re wondering whether opposition from toddlers is something you should worry about, you will find this article helpful. Here, we will discuss why toddlers say “no”, when it is appropriate/inappropriate to say so, and some tips for parents to handle the situation. Let’s get started then.
Why Toddlers Say “No”
Toddlers are growing babies with a developing mind. Their ability to think is growing at a faster pace. When babies enter toddlerhood, they pretty much know what they want and what they don’t. Of course, they are still too young to understand the consequences of certain actions, but they realise that they need to say certain words to get or avoid something. Therefore, they use “no”, just like adults do.
If you’ve experienced your toddler’s opposition, remember that it’s normal until it becomes a behavioural issue. Therefore, don’t be taken aback when you get an extreme response. It is, in fact, a sign that your toddler is becoming independent and making his own decisions. Also, opposing is a way for your little one to assert himself and feel in control.
You must also know that toddlers have more than one way to say “no”. Yes, they will use the word wherever they want to (sometimes, even when they don’t mean it), but their actions also speak louder than their words. Here are a few more ways your toddler may oppose certain things he doesn’t like.
- By avoiding a hug or a cuddle.
- Running away from you.
- Rejecting an offer made by you.
- Refusing your request.
- Ignoring or avoiding you.
- Pushing you when you hold him close.
These responses might worry you, but they are pretty useful when it comes to your munchkin’s safety. As a parent, you need to understand when it is normal for your child to say “no”, and when it is not.
Gauging an Opposing Toddler
Toddlers learn to say “no” for several reasons, two of which are already mentioned above. They also say “no” when they are stressed or don’t feel safe. Sometimes, they would also keep repeating “no”, just for fun. Therefore, parents should be able to gauge the reasons the child says “no” for. Look for signs of distress, withdrawal, fear, etc. to know exactly why your little one has a negative response.
If you know that your child has been saying “no” unnecessarily, you need to address the issue immediately as it could lead to the development of behavioural issues. Read on to know how you can gauge your child’s need and take appropriate actions to help him through.
Things Parents Can Do When Toddler Says “No” Often
1. Check for Signs
As mentioned earlier, check for signs of withdrawal or fear. Your child’s opposition due to fear or threat will be different than when he says no to a vegetable.
2. Give the Toddler Time to Adjust
A “no” may be a normal reaction to something new, such as a new recipe. In that case, give your little one enough time to adjust to whatever is new in his life.
3. Manage Boredom
Toddlers have a tendency to say “no” to everything they find boring. Your little one could be done playing with his toys, or doesn’t like that orange shirt anymore. You can add a bit of variety by introducing him to new games and activities to keep him interested.
4. Analyse the Negativity
Analyse what your little one does and observes all day. Get to the root of the negativity if required, and gently change his thoughts by communicating with him. Using the whisper technique usually works here. You can hold your little one close and whisper all the positive things about the stuff your child says no to. Reiterating positives can help change a child’s negative thoughts. This technique can also be used to correct his behaviour.
5. Ask, Don’t Tell
Opposing inculcates a feeling of being in control. When your child opposes, ask him to do something instead of telling him. Requests also keep his independence intact and encourage him to be cooperative.
6. Mind What You Say
Rephrasing your statements can also make a huge difference. They can get your toddler to cooperate and participate without opposing anything you ask him to do. For example, “let’s eat up the veggies and then the cookie monsters” instead of “you will not get any cookie if you don’t eat the vegetables”.
When You Should Be Concerned About Opposing Toddler
Most parents can handle their toddlers saying “no” by using some of the useful tips given above. However, some toddlers develop behavioural issues, which parents need to control with a firmer approach. Sometimes, it is okay to tell your toddler you are the parent, and you make the decision.
If there’s no change in your child’s behaviour, you may consult a counsellor, who can help you with some more ideas to tackle the issue. The practitioner can also help diagnose any psychological or medical issues that are stressing your toddler out and giving rise to the behavioural issues.
Getting your toddler to say “yes” might seem like a humungous task for some parents. We hope the information provided in this article helps you manage your munchkin’s opposing responses. While you modify the way you approach your child, you must also practice patience and perseverance to bring about good results. Also, remember that your child doesn’t have to be a “yes” kid. Hear him out, understand the emotion he is feeling and act accordingly. Respecting his “no” in certain situations will show him that his feelings are valid, and it will slowly but surely build self-respect.