Many changes keep on happening as children grow. We have passed through the stages of baby’s firsts – the first smile, the first crawl, the first steps, the first words and so on. As children slowly become toddlers, there are still so many changes. Some of these changes will make us think if it is normal. There are times that it left parents hanging and thinking if the child is okay.

One of which is the stage when toddlers keep saying no. May it be as simple as asking him to pass the spoon or to wear those gloves because it freezing outside. Or begging her to eat the cake she requested you to bake. Or you wanting to comb her hair because it’s a mess. You will be greeted with a big no as an answer, completed with screaming or tantrums, sometimes throwing of things. There’s a lot of explaining and arguing to do. That is why many parents are left perplexed.

Is this normal? Experts say that this is just a normal stage that almost every child has gone through. 

Also known as “toddler refusal,” it is a phase of a child’s liking and saying the word “no” because they can. In a big, mysterious world where they can’t seem to fit in, they just suddenly find a way to be heard and to take control – and saying no is their way. They just want it, they want to do and exercise it. Worry not because of how sudden it comes, as quickly as it will disappear. But in the meantime that a child is into it, what can parents do?

Why do toddlers say no?


One of the main reasons why a child says no is that it is easy to say. They might also notice that using the words earns a reaction from you. Through this, they can feel that they are their selves. It is like declaring their newfound independence. Some that it is their way of building self-confidence. Looking through it, these can be good signs.

Children learn through observation and imitation. So if his parents or the persons around him were always saying no, the possibility is that he can copy it too.

What can we do about it?


Do not force your child not just to say no. Doing so will only make him feel helpless or angry, and may lead to more defiance. Experts share some strategies for your kids not to say no.

Stay cool. Take a deep breath and remain calm. Kids can sense if you are annoyed and they will just keep on insisting what they like. Keeping yourself calm will show them that you are still the one in control. Let the tantrums subside and talk to the kid when he is ready to listen.

Minimize using the word no as much as possible. Having them hear it many times in a day leads children to imitate it. As experts say, tell your child what you want him to do rather than telling him what not to do. As an example. “Don’t throw your toys in the mud” or “no throwing of toys in the mud,” you might as well say, “Please keep your toys in the caddy so it will not be dirty.”

Talk to your child in a soft tone (unless in an emergency of course). He is more likely to listen when parents use a calm and firm voice. When he answered back loud, you can say, “It’s already bedtime. And bedtime is always quiet” or “We’re inside, use your indoor voice.”

Let them understand the reason for what you ask him to do. You don’t need to go into details, a child can easily understand you. For example, instead of saying “no throwing of toys in the mud,” you can say “Do not throw your toys in the mud, it will catch up many germs. That will make you and your baby brother sick.”

Let your child makes a decision. Do not always dictate to him what should be done. If she doesn’t want to eat because she is still playing with her dolls, you can ask her “What do you like to eat with your spaghetti? A glass of warm milk or a cold glass of pineapple juice?” Making small decisions makes them feel good about themselves and they might as well give in to your requests at other times. 


Offer choices when technically, there is no choice. You can lead them to what you want him to do. You can ask him like, “Do you want to eat right now or you will play for five more minutes and you will eat.” Let the child think that he always has a choice.

Turn a negative statement to a positive one. Instead of saying “No jumping on the couch,” you can say “We sit on the couch to read or watch TV. The floor is where you can jump. Are we going to sit on the couch or jump on the floor?”

Children love to imitate. Instead of forcing him to wear his socks, you can wear yours and let him imitate you until he wears his socks too.

Make tasks fun so as not to hear objections from your kids. Instead of saying “Put your toys away,” you can say “Let us see how long you can take your toys away. I’ll cover my eyes and count from one to ten and see how far you can do.” You can also use timers with cute tones and sounds that kids will love.

Notice and praise kids when they do things right. You can say “thank you” or “very good.” These words of encouragement can build confidence and self-worth and will lead them to repeat positive behaviors and actions.

Children love treats and rewards. Reward your kids when they behave and give them small treats. Hugs and kisses are extremely effective. Giving them attention will make them feel important. Treats are not limited to food and money or toys. You can give them things that they can use like pencils, crayons and coloring books. Added minutes of playtime and cartoon time can also do the trick.

Stand your ground. Although your toddler has a will and wants to assert it, he can’t always do what he likes. There are times when a child is not given a choice, like in emergencies. A child should understand that, and parents can teach them that. You can say, “I know you don’t like it, but this is the right thing to do, this is what’s right for you.”

Always think that the situation won’t last forever. If the toddlers are always saying no, it is just a phase that children are going to and they need you as their parents to get pass through it. To be a parent entails a lot of sacrifices and responsibility. Always think of the positive sides. Proper guidance to your kids now can mold him to a person of worth and value in the future.

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