motherhood · parenthood

How to avoid being the queen of the “no”with your toddler.


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It is difficult to not say “no” to a toddler who is starting to explore around the house. Trash can digging, “no!”; trying to open cabinets with cleaning chemicals inside, “no!”; pushing himself back near a sharp corner, “no!”; reaching for the cable box and trying to pull it from the cables, “no!”; you get it.

My first reaction is to say no, but as soon as I find myself almost pronouncing the negative word, I try to alternate to pull his attention with something attractive to him, like the sound of a toy, playing run and hide, hold him and taking him to the living room where he can play safely… I just don’t want to find myself saying “no” all the time!

Today, I run across a comment in a Montessori group I follow on facebook and I think that the author, Isabel Moralexo, is right, so I will share it with you. It talks about the importance of language when addressing a toddler to educate him in the learning curve of consequences, without punishments or gifts and trying to avoid the “no” word. Read and if you find them useful, use them.

  1. To get out of the house: “I need you to… (leave your toy there, put on your shoes…)
  2. When we eat: “We must… (be seated, wear the bib…)
  3. When he kicks, hits or bites: “I like caresses” (and I give him one), “I like kisses” (and I give him one), “I like hugs” (and I proceed); “Kicks are for the water, to swim, to kick the ball”.
  4. Climb to where it’s not safe: I inform him about the function of that piece of furniture “The drawer is meant to keep things, the table is meant for eating” and I kindly ask him to come back down.
  5. For when he answers “No!”, if it’s for his own safety, I correct the situation, otherwise if he is not obedient, I say: “Ok, let’s do this (what I needed him to do) and then something fun.
  6. To wait and build his patience “When we are patient and we wait, fun things happen, like (a tickle attack… or the thing that he was waiting for).
  7. His safety: The knife, the car…”It’s dangerous, it can hurt you very badly” “look, you can fall” (but I usually don’t avoid the fall if it is insignificant).
  8. Decisions: if possible, I try to make him choose between two things like books, clothes, games, etc.
  9. Education: everything goes along with a “please, thank you, excuse me, I will appreciate…”, when he says thank you voluntarily, I feel all the effort is worth it.
  10. Reaction to avoid the “Very well! or very good!” I check out the process, the effort and my feeling about that action. “Can we try…? You did it!”
  11. Team work: asking for help we say: “Team work!” and we do it both.

Hope you find this handy!


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