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Say NO without actually saying it

Having a toddler that just went from terrible twos to being a threenager is definitely no joke. I have been working so hard to minimise George’s tantrums (of course he throws tantrums and sometimes on a daily basis but they are not huge, crying hysterical ones) and one of the reasons he throws tantrums is the word “No”. Every time he hears this word he just turns into a full on tantrum mode and there is no going back.

He will start asking why, and why and why all over again and start crying. No one really likes the word no though and that’s why we have been trying our best to eliminate the word no and instead use other sentences or use the word yes instead!

Here are some examples:

He is not eating his food but requests going to the park.

  • Instead of saying “no, we are not going until you eat your food” we would say “yes we are going to the park once you finish your food”

And of course this can be applied to any situation.

He requests help with something but he doesn’t really need it.

  • Instead of “no, you can do it on your own” let’s say “I am sure you can make it, you are a big boy now”

He wants sweets first thing in the morning

  • Instead of “no, you can’t have that” say “yes you can choose your sweets but you will save them for later”

He is trying to do something that he really shouldn’t or may be dangerous

  • Instead of “no, don’t do that” say “mommy is in charge of doing those things, let me help you. You are in charge of doing this and that”

He is throwing a tantrum about something

  • Instead of “no, you won’t get that” say “let’s talk about it, maybe we can get this another time?”

He refuses to hold hands while crossing the road

  • Instead of “no, you have to hold my hand” say “I know you are a big boy now but can you help mom cross the road?”

He doesn’t want to sit in the car seat

  • Instead of “no, you have to” say “I know you want to sit like mommy and daddy but you get to buckle your seatbelt like they do”

He starts throwing things when frustrated

  • Instead of “no, don’t throw things” say “I would feel frustrated too but I would do this or this instead of throwing things”

He refuses to go to bed or nap

  • Instead of “no, go back to bed” say “I will give you a hug and put you back to bed so that you can have so much energy tomorrow and we can play all morning “

He may be a bit harsh with his movements towards his sister

  • Instead of “no, don’t push her or whatever he is doing” say “show me how you can be gentle with her”

These are just ten examples and there are thousands of them. I know these are easier said than done, I yell more than I would like to and it seems like the word “no” is one of my most common reactions but I am trying to incorporate these into our everyday discussions.

The trick here is to put it in other words in order to sound positive instead of negative to them. Show them a good thing in a bad situation (as with the car seat example) or show them that you are the one needing them (as with the hand holding situation) and more importantly show them that you believe in them (as with the help example). Toddlers understand way more things than we actually think and sometimes by explaining to them why they shouldn’t do something instead of just telling them off saves you a tantrum.

I want to have this list to look back at when I have a really bad day, a day full of “no” answers. Toddlers will throw tantrums and they will test your limits and you can’t change that but you can find out what battles are worth fighting for and how to have it your way but in a way that is positive!

Hope you find this list helpful and if you’re having a bad day remember that you’ve got this and you are doing an amazing job!

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