Saying no to a toddler is not easy because we do not want to disappoint our little ones; neither do we want to go through another bout of tantrums! Toddlers are energetic and experimental beings; their sense of adventure is heightened by their natural curiosity. Their mobility gives them freedom to move around and try new things. They are constantly learning about the world. Unlike adults, they do not yet have a filter for harmful, expensive, unnecessary things or self-regulation. They have developed a sense of self and are starting to communicate what they want, and they want it now! But they also have to learn the meaning of the word “No!”
Here’s how to effectively say no to toddlers!
1. Always give a no with a reason and be gentle.
A No with a reason is education and helpful to the child in understanding why they cannot have or do a particular thing. On the other hand, saying no without a reason opens doors for rebellion, resentment and confusion in the child. This may even set a wrong precedence for when their older and seek approval outside the home. For example:
‘’No, my darling, you cannot play outside now. It’s late and you may catch a cold.’’ or
‘’No, honey, you cannot play with that, it will cut you.’’
2. Always think of a more positive alternative.
If the child is playing with your phone, give them a more interesting distraction like their favourite toy. Or if you cannot give them something ‘now’, but can get it later, do remember to follow through with the promise to build and maintain trust. While no is necessary in teaching discipline and listening skills, it is important to be considerate of how they feel and soothe their disappointment where possible.
3. Do not lie to or scare the child.
While the “monsters in the dark” story may seem entertaining, or telling a white lie may let you get away with it, they in reality create incorrect messaging in the child. A child can develop a phobia of the dark or adopt misleading beliefs or learn that it is acceptable to not tell the truth.
4. It helps to toddler-proof your home.
Hide items you don’t want your toddler to handle and set some ground rules and boundaries early on when it comes to what they are permitted to do, or not.