It can be one of the most frustrating parts about being a mother to a toddler, and that is when they constantly use the word “no.” They seem to respond that way for everything, and they may even say it when they really mean “yes.” This can lead to a tantrum when mom misinterprets their meaning. While it can be frustrating, the word “no” has a large meaning when it comes to child development.
Child development is vital and the first 5 years of a child’s life can be seen as the most important, according to All 4 Kids. Data from the Rauch Foundation had found that 85% of a person’s brain is developed by the time they are 5 years old. That is a lot of work in a short period of time, and when we start to look at toddler behavior with that in mind, it doesn’t seem so illogical. There are just so many changes and periods of growth happening.
Why Do They Always Say “No?”
Sometimes, we try not to muster too much on the “why” when it comes to toddler and child behavior. Our adult brains cannot seem to begin to understand what is going on with them, and that is when we turn to the experts.
According to Parents, the reason a toddler says no is because they are learning to assert themselves. It is normal for a parent and a toddler to “butt heads” every day, but what is shocking is that a study found that parents and their child (aged 3 years on average) argued 20-25 times per hour. It is quite alarming when you see it written down.
John Sargent is a child psychiatrist and he stated that when children are around the age of 3, they are learning to assert themselves and that when they “argue” with you, they are gaining a sense of self-confidence.
Unfortunately, mom just seems to be the tool that the child is using to gain this new skill. The toddler sees the world as this big place, a place where they have no power, and if saying “no” is the only way they can feel powerful, they are going to use it to their advantage.
Change Your Ideology
Sometimes, the reason things bother us so much is because we are thinking about it from one perspective, and we need to change how we see it. Kathryn Smerling is a family psychologist, and she told Today’s Parent that she chooses and advises mom to look at the constant “no’s” from a different perspective. That this is a stage where our children are just learning that they are their own person and not just an extension of us.
This stage of development is vital when it comes to toddlers growing up into fully functional adults. Instead of looking at this period as being frustrating, look at it as being beneficial for the child.
Learning About Boundaries
When toddlers use the word “no” they are doing a lot more than trying to assert their power and independence in the world, they are also testing you. They are learning about your boundaries and just how much you will accept and allow, and this is also important. They are trying to see if mom will give in or if she will put her foot down. This is an important skill for them to learn, and it is important that mom is consistent in her role in this learning experience.
Children learn by their parents setting limits to their behavior, and they will also begin to set limits for themselves. This is teaching them what their limits are and the ability to say no, and use it effectively, will help guide them on what they will allow. This goes much deeper than just normal toddler behavior, and it will allow them to tell their Great Aunt that they don’t want that hug, and to stand up to another child on the playground who wants them to do something that they don’t want to do.
Can Mom Make It Through?
Now that mom knows how important this stage is for their child, does that mean she needs to enjoy every second? No, while it is important, it can still be frustrating and time-consuming. There are some things where “no” is not an option and it is important that mom does not get into a battle with her toddler, because she is unlikely to win. Toddlers are not experts at thinking things through logically, and that is something else that comes with time and development.
One of the best ways for mom to work around this is to make her toddler feel like they have the control. Instead of telling them they are having cereal for breakfast, give them a choice of things you are willing to make. By asking them if they want cereal or toast, you are making them feel like they are in charge and like they have the control.