Toddler Says 'No' a Lot - Here's What You Can Do About It!

Toddler Says ‘No’ a Lot

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Rashmi Prakash (Psychologist/Psychotherapist)
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Your little one has reached an age, where he is exercising his independence and asserting himself by saying ‘no’, and often. Now that he knows he has a will, he is going to use it. When you hear your munchkin saying ‘no’ for the first time, you will find it funny, but if he repeatedly uses it, especially for the things you want him to do, you’re likely to ask yourself and fellow parents what you can do to deal with your child’s new-found defiance.

You can start by staying calm. You can also try and find out the reasons for his defiance, before dealing with it.

Why Your Toddler Says ‘No’ a Lot

As babies grow, their minds develop too. Their ability to think grows 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 away 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.

Understanding Your Opposing Toddler

Toddlers learn to say ‘no’ for several reasons. They may 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 of Fear

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 Your Toddler Some Time to Adjust

Saying ‘no’ can be a normal reaction to something new, such as trying out a new dish. 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 observe 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 he 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. When you ask your child something or give him options, he will exercise independence intact and encourage him to be cooperative.

6. Mind What You Say

The way you talk to your child can have an impact on his behaviour. If your child has been saying ‘no’ often, try giving them choices or using positive words when talking to him. Using positive words can get your toddler to cooperate and participate, and he won’t oppose anything you ask him to do. For example, “let’s eat the veggies and then the cookie monsters” instead of “you will not get any cookie if you don’t eat the vegetables”.

When Should You Be Concerned?

You can handle your toddler’s constant defiance by using some of the useful tips given above. But if these tips don’t work and your little one has started showing behavioural issues, you can be firm. 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 be overwhelming, but you’re the parent and you can do it. And we hope the information in this article helps you manage your munchkin’s behaviour. 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 in him.

Also Read:

Social Anxiety In Your Toddler
Outrageous Things Only Toddlers Can Say!
How to Deal with Demanding Behaviour in Toddlers

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Priyadarshika is a passionate writer, who doesn’t hesitate from treading uncharted territories. She thoroughly enjoys the process of transforming thoughts into words and creating interesting reads. She likes sharing ideas and perspectives, and always ensures she is patient and persistent. She puts efforts to excel every day, whether it is at work or in her personal life. She is a blogger and a poet, and always demonstrates her skills creatively to add value to our content.