Discipline for Toddlers: How I Learned To Say No Without Saying No!

When it comes to discipline for toddlers, things can get out of control pretty quickly. Parents and their children often butt heads, and it is how parent’s mange power struggles that will make or break the situation. Simply screaming no at your kids will not do the trick; at least not after it has been done a hundred times per day. No will stop being effective and can be damaging to your child’s development. So, welcome to toddler discipline 101: learning how to say “No” without saying “No”.

NO is a word that is filled with power. Many parents are quick to say it simply because it is easier to say then to give a real reason or have an honest conversation with their child. (Yes, you can have honest conversations with your toddler!) They will hear you say NO quite often. Do not get me wrong. This is not always a bad word to us. Your toddler will have to be told NO so that they can grow up knowing how to use the word themselves. The problem with kids is that they want instant gratification.

This “I want my way now” desire drives them, so it can be hard for them to grasp that the word NO is something they have to accept sometimes. However, this is an overused word that can lead to negativity in your child’s thought process. So, while NO is necessary, learning positive ways by talking to your toddlers to convey NO without actually saying it is something that is important to learn. This is especially true for preschoolers who will soon be stepping into the real world.

parentingbagoftricks.com - number_1The first tip I have for you is to strike a balance in how you discipline toddlers. There is no one size fits all answer, so you will have to figure out a good balance for the way your family operates. Too many NO’s (and yes’s for that matter) can be crippling to a child’s ability to develop self discipline. If their entire day is filled with the word NO, the world may begin to look like a negative place to them. It can also make them feel like they are bad kids and this makes them feel shame, so balance is vital.

parentingbagoftricks.com - number_2My second tip is to use creative ways to say the word NO. There are a few ways to get around using this word too often. The first thing to do is to change what is going on and causing you to say NO. Back when my son was two years old, he was running amuck in the house and doing things that could have ended up with a trip to the emergency room. So, I decided to remove him from the “NO” situation and directed his attention elsewhere using the reframing method I’ve learnt. This not only stopped the “no” behavior, but helped me to bond with my child on a healthier level. Let’s face it; if we spend all of our time telling our toddlers no, the relationship we have with them will be unpleasant and become stunted.

parentingbagoftricks.com - number_3Another way around the NO word is to use other words and phrases that mean the same thing. Try, let’s not do that just now, or I prefer that you stop doing this and start doing that. This is a good way of getting your child to do what you want and averting temper tantrums (sometimes). You can also try letting them know why they should stop their behavior.

For instance, if your toddler is putting something dirty in their mouth, try saying “eww dirty! That can make you sick!” This conveys the word NO without saying it and lets them know that there is a good reason that they should stop their behavior. From my experience, the less NO’s that fill the day, the better the day is for both of you.

parentingbagoftricks.com - number_4Using the state management & anchoring method is another way to say NO without saying NO is with body language. This can be a powerful tool to teach your child when you mean NO without even opening up your mouth and is something I have down pat! The look can be done with your hands on your hips or simply the raise of an eyebrow.

Feelings can be communicated well through this method. Sometimes they can be even stronger than words. Another great way to say no is giving your child positive substitutes. For instance, “You cannot have that knife but you can have the spoon.” You have just told them no without saying the word and made them feel as if they have options.

Well, that is my advice to parents on how to discipline toddlers. I know how hard it can be to develop new patterns of discipline. We all want to be the best parents we can be and sometimes that means getting support from other parents who are dealing with the same things that you are. Do not give up on changing your “No” habits.

In the end you will find that it paid off and be glad that you did all that you could to make your child feel special, important and needed.