You asked

My two year old says “No” to everything. How can I stop this?

A two year old has a limited vocabulary and too often, the word “no” is one of their favourite words. They have recently learned that they have a will and are exercising it by saying no. These stages will disappear soon, so don’t be overly concerned. In the mean time, there are a few things you can do to limit your child’s newfound defiance.

Offering your child choices is the best way to battle the “no’s”. Instead of telling her to pick up her toys, ask her, “Do you want to pick up your toys now, or in two minutes?” To avoid a battle when getting dressed, ask her if she wants to wear the white shirt or the blue shirt. Presenting choices limits the child’s possible responses allows them to feel more in control.

You can also teach your child other words to use instead of no. Expand their vocabulary by making it a game. Ask your child, “What is the opposite of ‘no’?”, or “Do you know what comes ‘between ‘no’ and ‘yes’?”. Of course, you will have to live with the outcome of this. Once they learn the words ‘I don’t know’ or ‘maybe’, it can become as frustrating as the word ‘no’.

Another key to limiting your child’s use of the word no is to use it sparingly yourself. Many times, a child will say ‘no’ to everything, because they hear the word so much. So, stop and thing about what you are saying to your child. Instead of just saying ‘no’, try to be more specific; “We don’t hit other children”, or “It’s not safe to climb on the table”.

Despite your best efforts, there will be times when you must battle with the “no’s”. But, be patient and remember that it is a stage that all two year old children go through.

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