Alternatives to “No”’

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Alternatives to “No”’

April 26, 2011

Do you find yourself saying “no” to your child a lot?  The reality is that most parents are constantly saying no.  “According to descriptive studies, young children are prevented from doing something they want, or made to do something they’d rather not, literally every few minutes.” (Unconditional Parenting, by Alfie Kohn)

Among many other very important reasons, choosing “yes”  instead of “no” whenever possible, helps build your toddler’s confidence (ie. they can trust themselves and feel good about their choices); and helps avoid power struggles which makes your day much easier! 

Though most of us make some effort to reduce the frequency with which we say “no”, we could all use some creative ideas to add to our toolbox.   Here is one way to say “yes” instead and have more fun:

When safety is not an issue, instead of saying “no” or “stop that”, recognize their perspective (ie. their need, intention, or desire), start with yes, and then make it fit for both of you. 

Here are some examples: 

  • As your child is spilling water on the floor on purpose you might say, “Yes, you love to pour water, let’s go to the bathtub to do that!”
  • As your child is spilling milk while blowing bubbles in it, “Yes, bubbles are fun, we’ll blow real bubbles outside.”
  • As your child climbs up onto the table, “You are wanting to climb, we can climb on the couch.”
  • As your child sticks his fingers in the butter, “Yes, it feels neat to paint in the butter, let’s put some on a plate to draw in”.

You and your little one will both feel better with these kinds of positive responses. 

About the Authors: Nicole Diduck, MSLP & Megan Stock, MSLP are communication experts, mothers of young children, & co-founders of Naturally Baby; a company committed to increasing awareness & understanding of the 3 factors that are essential in communicating with toddlers so that moms can have less stress & more fun while raising a confident & emotionally healthy child. For information on their products, books, & workshops please visit www.naturallybaby.com.

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