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  • Is 'No' Your Toddler's Favorite Word? How To Get Them To Say 'Yes' More Often

    Knowing the reasons behind his refusal can be the key to turning things around.
    by Kitty Elicay .
Is 'No' Your Toddler's Favorite Word? How To Get Them To Say 'Yes' More Often
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  • Parents have been warned of the terrible twos — that period in your child’s life when your sweet little angel becomes moody and defiant. Now their favorite words include, “No!” and “Ayaw!” that you start to wonder whether they are testing your patience on purpose.

    Why toddlers like to say ‘no’

    In most cases, that’s exactly what your toddler is trying to do. “Kids this age are realizing that they can assert themselves, and arguing with you is one way they gain confidence,” shares Dr. John Sargent, a child psychiatrist and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Baylor College of Medicine, in an article by Parents. It’s also at this age that they start to develop wants — and if they don’t get it, well, that’s why tantrums happen.

    As kids develop, they start testing out their independence. They’re also observing just how independent their parents will allow them to be. Saying “no,” is the easiest way to test mom and dad’s limits and it also helps them learn cause and effect.

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    How to get your toddler to say ‘yes’

    As a parent, your job is to take control of the situation in a calm manner to avoid a power struggle with your tot, says Dr. Elizabeth Berger, a child psychiatrist and author of Raising Kids with Character, in a column for Parents.

    Start with understanding your toddler’s emotions and what is driving them to say “no.” “The most important emotional accomplishment of the toddler years is reconciling the urge to become competent and self-reliant with the simultaneous and sometimes contradictory longing for parental love and affection,” Alicia F. Lieberman, author, and vice-chair of the University of California, San Francisco Department of Psychiatry, writes in her book, The Emotional Life of the Toddler.

    “In order to explore and learn, they need reassurance that the parent will be there to keep them safe while they do things on their own,” Lieberman writes.

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    Here are some more tips to make your toddler more agreeable:

    Avoid using the phrase, “What do you want to…”

    Whenever you ask your child, “What do you want to eat, what do you want to wear, what do you want to do,” his mind is scrambling to choose from unlimited options. He’ll often choose immediate needs or wants, regardless of external factors.

    Try this instead: instead of asking him what he wants for dinner, tell him he can have fried chicken or soup. During playtime, ask him whether he wants to play with building blocks or go outside. Make sure you’re okay with the options and be specific. If he refuses and suggests another option, be firm and let him know he can only choose from what you told him.

    “Giving your toddler choices helps satisfy her need to feel in control,” said Angie T. Cranor, Ph.D., an assistant professor of human development and family studies at the University of North Carolina.

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    Use verbs, not nouns

    A recent study published in the journal Child Development, suggests that kids will be more inclined to listen when parents use verbs instead of nouns. “Using verbs to talk about actions with children, such as encouraging them to help, read, and paint may help to lead to more resilience following the setbacks that they inevitably experience rather than using nouns to talk about identities — for example asking them to be helpers, readers, or artists,” according to the study.

    It’s also a great way to encourage a growth mindset. Actionable phrases, instead of identity categories, can teach children to view difficulties as opportunities to learn rather than seeing it negatively.

    Toddlers are sometimes in a hurry to be big kids. Giving them responsibilities like chores can make them more agreeable and less likely to say “no.” And don’t forget to praise their efforts — this will motivate them to continue helping out, a win-win situation for everyone!

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    Raising toddlers can be a handful, but being patient, understanding, and most importantly, loving, can easily turn those “nos” into “yeses.” Remember: the key is to be a parent still while also respecting your child’s need to test out her newfound independence.

    Does your toddler always throw a tantrum? It may be the result of an empty emotional cup. Click here for ways to fill it.

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