"All My Toddler Says is 'No'. What Do I Do?"
Every toddler goes through a 'no' phase. Here are 5 things every parent should try to deal with it.
My cousin just visited us. He has a cute little daughter, about 2.5 years old. She is just adorable! She can recite almost every nursery rhyme and can jump off the sofa confidently. I see in my niece a confident, strong woman in making. However, to her parent's dismay, she has entered the 'no' phase.
The 'no' phase
It is indubitably one of the most irritating phases for a parent. All your child wants to say is 'no'. "Are you hungry?" - "no". "How about sleep?" - "no". You ask her anything. The answer is always a singular negative. The funny thing is, they do not fully understand the concept of negative. And yet, their answer is a confident 'No'!
The 'no' phase is one of the ways your toddler is learning to assert herself. It is not essentially a bad thing. At around this age, they discover that they have a will of their own and it is 'possible' to do things against the wish of the parents. This is frustrating, but it is just one of the pains of growing up!
And yes, the 'no' phase frustrates parents. While most of the parents ignore the 'no', a few end up facing severe tantrums. And this adds to the frustration. What would you choose - being turned down or having a teddy bear thrown at you? To add to it, they don't respond to admonishments. A few parents, (or many) resort to spanking the poor child, however, it is not going to help the 2-year-old at all.
Dealing with the 'no' phase
There are essentially 5 things you can do to deal with the 'no' phase. And like any other parenting stuff, this is not a hack'. It is not going to stop overnight. You will have to give it time without getting frustrated. The key is to make them drop their present behaviour and condition them to adopt new habits. Research suggests that it may take up to 66 days of constant conditioning - you have to try these things out consistently for two months.
So, here are the 5 things you do
1# Stop using negatives in your conversations with the child
In many cases, the parents are responsible for the child's negative assertions. Find out if you are telling your child off often. So, instead of saying, "Don't shout", say, "Please speak in a lower volume." It is seen that children respond to positive requests and commands more readily than negative ones as the former are easier to understand.
2# Stop asking, start exciting!
An extension of the 80/20 rule when it comes to parenting is, you should know when to request and when to command. There are a few things that are vital for the child. So requests do not work there. However, if you are not too keen to command, use excitement rather than requests in such cases. So, instead of asking, "would you like to take a bath?", say, "Yay! It is bath time!"
If you are excited enough, chances are, toddlers will become curious and end up doing things.
3# Provide limited alternatives to choose from
Toddlers are as busy as CEOs of most of the multinational companies. They don't have time to come up with a solution for every question of yours! Thankfully, unlike busy bosses, toddlers do allow you to make some decisions for them. Therefore, to make their lives easier, instead of asking them, " what do you want to do now?", ask, "Would you like to play or would you like to read a book?"
4# Let her have her way in some cases
Coming back to the 80/20 rule, there are some things that you can really let your child decide. So, in such cases, let her be herself. My son is 14 months old. We let him explore around without prodding him every now and then. But when it comes to safety and security, we stop him. And so, he understands when to protest and when to accept!
In similar fashion, let her have control of some things in her life. It is not going to be the end of the world if your daughter decided to be a princess to go to Sheng Siong! If you do that, she will listen when you are honestly serious about a 'no'.
5# Wait and watch
If everything fails, remember, this is also a phase. A demanding toddler does not necessarily mean a troubled teenager. Soon, her vocabulary is going to expand and she is going to find other avenues to annoy you. Just be grateful that she is just saying 'no' and not throwing a shoe at a stranger! This too shall pass, maybe like a kidney stone, but it will pass!
Also, read Study: Spanking children may lead to anti-social behaviour in adulthood