NO: Every Toddler’s Favourite Word by Christine Lee-McNaughton
“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?”
“NO! NO! NO! NOOOOOOOO!”
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
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