I Brainwashed My Toddler (and I Do Not Feel Guilty)

Hitting the “NO” stage in parenting a toddler can be challenging. In this post, we not only talk you through tackling it, but prepare you and your toddler for growth and development later in life!

Every parent has the distinct privilege of being faced with a toddler’s all-out refusal. They may look cute and shake a tiny, chubby finger right at you and proclaim their very first “NO” just to see how you react. And no matter how many times we are told that this is a normal part of development, it does not seem to get any easier. In fact, the more times they test it out, the less cute it becomes. 

So, how do we survive the inevitable challenge of teaching our toddlers what to do with the word that can undermine our whole plan, our entire day or our street cred in front of grandma? Well, it is actually a lot like the instructions on a shampoo bottle that reads “shampoo, rinse, repeat” OK, we are not going to ‘shampoo’ or ‘rinse’ but the best way to face your toddler’s “no” stage is to repeat, repeat, repeat (and if you have clean, fresh smelling hair while you do it, that is a bonus but not essential).

In Moms on Call fashion, we are going to break down the actual words to repeat to that curious little one so that you actually have hair left to wash. Our goal is to use this time to prepare them for later in their development. It is to give them a predictable structure for how this defiant gesture works (or doesn’t) so you can carry on with the activities of daily life in a positive way.

What to say:

Every time your toddler says “No” you reply with

  • A look of supreme confidence – eyebrows up
  • Then say: “Not No”, “yes Ma’am (or sir) and do it”
  • Then help them to do what you have asked of them as if there was never another option available in all of the world. 

This will not make the “no” stop, it will just reset their thinking so that in the future (like after you have said this about 152,450 times and they are 3-4 years old) they will automatically know the proper response and they WILL start to respond to it. This is just a learning opportunity. We can use this time to instill the wanted response, which will carry them right into pre-teen years. You will get to the point where they will say “No”. You will raise an eyebrow and they will say “Yes Ma’am” and do it.

The simple way to move forward is to repeat how we handle “no” in this house and then help them to follow. The great thing about toddlers is they respond to simple repetition. And any parent who has played “pick-up-the-sippy-cup” can attest: they really love things on “repeat” (soft, clean hair not required).

Looking for more tips on toddler behavior? Use our Toddler by Design app to take a simple quiz to determine your toddler’s unique design combination and get tips on how that affects their sleep, tantrums, feeding and potty training.  Then get our Toddler Collection that includes everything you need to effectively communicate with your toddler, set boundaries, motivate positive behavior and so much more!

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