Parents always warn newbie moms or dads about the "terrible twos" stage when your toddler learns to say no. It signals the start of power struggles, and there are experts who talk about the importance of parents "winning" because it establishes their authority.
Travel blogger and new mom Paula Peralejo-Fernandez, however, seems to be embracing the so-called terrible twos with her son Pablo. He is not even 2 years old yet, but he has already learned the word "no." But this new mom is fully embracing her tot's milestone.
"I welcome it with open arms because I have observed [that] he says no when he means no, which means he is making a choice," the mom of one wrote as a caption for a video she posted on Instagram. "It also means I have a little human, who is discovering that he has a voice," she added.
The short video shows Paula on the bed having a conversation with Pablo. She asks him if he wants to eat and "nosy-nosy mama." He replies by shaking his head from side-to-side. "No?!" Paula exclaims. "You want to hug mama?" she then asks, and Pablo leaned over to hug his mom.
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Paula let Pablo say no and respected his decision. "Being able to say yes or no as an informed choice even for children that young is empowering!" Paula emphasized, citing a quote by parenting author Alfie Kohn: "The way kids learn to make good decisions is by making decisions, not following directions."
Toddlers saying no is their way of asserting their newfound independence. "When you’re open to this stage, when you see it as a milestone, a developmental stage, a normal process your child goes through and fully support it, your child makes yes even sweeter and melts your heart," Paula adds.
The new mom, who's been advocating gentle parenting and Montessori learning, also suggested that parents empower children's decision-making skills by giving them more choices. It's one of the expert-recommended tips to take control of a situation and avoid a power struggle with your tot.
Paula offers some examples: If you need to leave the playground but your tot doesn't want to leave, tell him you have to go in a few minutes and give him a choice of which playground equipment he would like to ride last. If you need your child to wear his shoes, but he is complaining, let him participate and ask which pair of shoes he's like to wear or which foot goes in a shoe first.
When giving your toddler more decision-making opportunities, make sure the choices you present to your tot are specific and options that you are comfortable with. That way, you're okay with whatever your kid decides on he decides on, and you don't get into a power struggle.