I was talking to a colleague of mine recently about my children. When I mentioned that my son was about 2 years old he asked me if he was at the terrible twos. My response “No, and I don’t think he will.” As always when I respond this way he laughed and said “just wait” as so many others have said. Now I know that a lot of children go through these stages and it is really common, but it doesn’t mean that every child will or has gone through it.
Does my son have tantrums? Yes. Does he cry and scream? Yes. Does he get an attitude and defiant? No. He does what we ask, when we ask it. Sometimes we have to encourage him a little bit, but we don’t hear the word “no” when asked to do something.
I know you may have the same thought as others have had, that I should just wait, but truthfully I know that we will get through the “terrible twos” without an issue. My husband and I thought about this issue long before my son was even 1.[I think you should put something here as to how no and terrible twos go together]. We don’t use the word “no” unless we are asked a “yes” or “no” question. If we don’t want our son to do something we either redirect, or tell him we don’t want him to do it. We do not use the word no. For example, if my son is walking too far ahead of us and I want him to stop, I say “RC, stop”. I do not say “RC, No”. By doing this he has no concept of “no” meaning not to do something. Most of the time when we want him to not do something we redirect him towards something we want him to do or where we want him to be.
We also give him choices. When we are in the grocery store he has a choice to either be in the cart or be held by me or my husband. He can choose which one he wants, but it has to be either one of those. By giving him a choice we are allowing him some sort of independence, but still within what is acceptable to us.
So what can you do if your child already uses “no”? If you told your child to sit and he/she didn’t, but responded to you with a “no”, let them know that you didn’t ask them a yes or no question. Make sure that you do ask them “yes” or “no” questions to give them an opportunity to respond appropriately. Another response would be to ask them what they would like to do instead. Using the example above, if RC said “no” and continued to walk, we would ask him where he wants to go (only if safety isn’t a concern). He may just want to see what is up ahead.
Toddlers want to exert independence. If you give them independence, within your parameters, they don’t feel the need to defy you. What is the harm in asking your child if they want a banana or an apple?
Ashley (Oct 2012)