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NO: Every Toddler’s Favourite Word by Christine Lee-McNaughton

1 April 2011 8 Comments

“Honey, please leave the banana tree alone! If you take all the soil out, it will die.”


“Hi Sweetheart! Please leave the garbage alone. It’s dirty. Yucky!”


“Is it bedtime now?”


If you’ve got a toddler, you have likely experienced scenarios like the ones above.  You are probably no stranger to the defiant head shaking of your toddler when asked to do something he or she does not want to do. For some reason, teaching a tiny tot how to say “Yes” doesn’t come as easy as teaching them the word “No”.

Being first time parents, Hubby and I have tried various methods in dealing with our two year old’s excessive use of the word “No” and not wanting to do what we want her to do…and when we want her to do it. “The Toddler” wants to do what she wants to do…and when she wants to do it.

At two, Little One is fascinated with taking things apart and seeing how things operate. I should be thankful that I’ve got an inquisitive and curious child and that we are blessed by her having the capacity to do these things. But, alas! I end up just getting stressed out because I’m left with broken items and a lot of mess to clean up.

We’ve tried telling Little One “No thank you. Please do not take the soil out of the pot. The banana tree will die”.  That eventually turns into, “No! Please leave that alone” or “AH! Don’t touch, please!”  Ultimately, what ends up being said is “Mommy said DON’T TOUCH that!!!” and we both end up in tears. Yes. That’s the sad truth.

I’ve tried ignoring what she’s doing, in the hopes that she’d get bored and forget about it. That method sometimes works, depending on the situation. If Little One is crying because she can’t get the filing cabinet opened, I let her be. I certainly will not unlock the filing cabinet so she can shred Hubby’s papers. She eventually forgets about it and moves onto something else. However, if Little One is playing with  our potted plants, she probably will not forget about it and will continue to have fun unearthing our poor house plants. If I catch her as she is thinking/plotting what she will do, I guide her away from the plants and give her some Play Doh to play with.

A method Hubby and I have been working on has been “The Art of Distraction”. This is the method we aim to use, but often forget about it when disaster is in our midst. We end up sometimes reverting back to the above mentioned. We have found that distraction works like a charm most of the time though. When Little One is doing something I don’t really want her to do (like when she takes her banana and decides that squishing it between her fingers and squeezing the life out of it is a good a idea…then proceeds to rub it all over her face and hair like moisturizer), I try to bring her attention elsewhere. I say, “[insert Little One's real name here], would you like some cheese? If  you give Mama your banana, I will give you some cheese”.  She’s crazy for cheese, so usually this works.

Likewise, if she’s tearing apart the house (which happens on a regular basis…especially when I’ve got deadlines due, work to get done, supper to make, AND laundry to do), I say “Do you want to play with your puzzle?” or “Should we give your baby a drink?” She will usually get excited and play with her puzzle or give her dolly a pretend sip of tea from her tea cup.

The distraction technique certainly takes a while to master and it takes time and patience. I admit, this is something I have been lacking as of late, but it’s something we are working toward. Who knew that parenting would require so much thinking on your feet? Who knew that there would be so many consequences as to how you approach situations? Who knew that there would have to be so much effort to ensure that you try to remain calm and remember that your child is only two, after all?

Each child is different and no single technique works on all children the same way. What works on one may not work for another.

What kind of techniques work best for you when it comes to dealing with “The Terrific Twos”? (My husband calls it “The Terrific Twos”, as he hates the term “Terrible Twos”.)

Christine is a blogger and BornFree Canada Mom Panel Member

Leave a comment! Each person who comments will be entered to win a Twin Pack of Eco Deco bottles!

The winner is Michelle with the email address: michelle******@hotmail.com


  • Sarah Ahmad said:

    I feel your pain. My daughter is 4 now and still challenges me on a daily basis. I know kids don’t do it to annoy the crap out of us and it’s all a part of them growing up and becoming indpendent but seriously I wish there was an easier route to take. The worse part is that not every technique will work all the time, sometimes distractions work whereas other times a time out is necessary. The key is to remain calm and composed though which is easier said than done!

  • Michelle said:

    My son is almost 3. We have had our share of “rough” times too with the word “NO” Hubby and I discussed various techniques which amazingly ALL worked….sometimes. LOL. I do notice though, when my tone changes (when I’m really wearing thin) that’s when his anger skyrockets, so yes remaining calm is soooo important! My son’s favorite phrase is “No, I’m not trying to!” (not sure how or where this phrase came from) but he will say it 4000 times a day! I do understand where he is coming from, if I just sat down to do something and someone told me I had to do something else….I wouldn’t be happy either! I have a few little tricks that almost always work. If he starts doing something, but it’s time for something else (like nap time) I tell him he has 2 minutes and then its bed time. he has no concept of time really so he figures “ok, I’ll do this now…nap later” this has worked very well for us.
    We hardly have had to use time outs, only in “Extreme” cases. I have also tried the count to 3 method. If he is doing something he shouldn’t and I tell him to stop..he yells NO! so I tell him again, and then tell him that I will count to 3. He yells no again, so I count. I’ve never gotten past 2! LOL. So…no one really knows what happens when I get to 3, but the thought of it is enough to make him stop!
    And I’m going to have to agree with “Distraction”!!! Most times just redirecting him, changes everything and avoids a huge meltdown.

  • Kristi said:

    I know that the “no phase” will be entering my household soon…my almost 17 month old son is forming tons of sounds together and it’s just a matter of time!! However what I find to be happening currently is that I’m the one who is saying “NO” lots but my son’s response to almost every “no” is to run towards me, lips all puckered up to give me a kiss!! Seriously, this child of mine is already learning how to suck up and get me to forget about the “no”!!! lol

  • Valerie said:

    Redirection, distraction, all work. We have to sometimes resort to time outs, but don’t necessarily like to. Counting to three sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t.

  • Evelyn said:

    That’s easy. Tell them, “I’m counting to three!” or “Wait til your father comes home!” That always worked for us! Just kidding. It’s been so long that I don’t remember what techniques we used. Now we’re grandparents and discipline is left to our kids! We just spoil the grandkids!

  • Lori said:

    We are just entering no-ville and am not super excited about it. I am shocked at how early everything is no. However, if she is a no kind of mood I will ask her a couple of questions that I know will be yes – to turn the no’s into yes’s!

  • Christine said:


  • iTriageHealth said:


    BornFreeMom » Blog Archive » NO: Every Toddler’s Favourite Word by Christine Lee-McNaughton…

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