Handling a Toddler in the NO! Phase

October 5, 2018 | By Amanda Anderson | Category: Lifestyle, Toddler

Many mamas are fully prepared for the “Why?” phase from their toddlers — where everything is in question, and answers are met with more questions.  But are you ready for the “NO!” phase? No, they won’t come sit next to you. No, they will not eat that.  No, they will not say “please”.  You get the idea! The Terrible Two’s can often be synonymous with the “NO!” phase, making them especially terrible!  There’s nothing more frustrating than being met with endless defiance…but did you know it’s a very important stage for your Bitsy?

I’m sorry, you’re saying they NEED to say no?

It’s true!  As agonizing as it is for you to deal with, it’s imperative for them to develop properly.  Around the age of two, your toddler is experiencing a lot of developmental change.  And to coincide with that, they’re realizing that they have autonomy and their own will, and they’re definitely going to practice that!

This stage helps them to realize that they can respond to things  they don’t like or are uncomfortable with, which is such a valuable lesson for them to learn!  It’s also a great time for them to learn the proper response.  As they grow, they obviously can’t yell NO! to anything that doesn’t suit them, but it’s a start!

All that aside, the “NO!” phase is still absolutely a test for you — your Bitsy will be pushing your limits to see how far they can go and what they can get away with.  This goes a long way in teaching them the way to interact in social scenarios, believe it or not!


Great…so how do I handle it?

While I’m sure it’s great to hear how good the “NO!” phase is for your toddler, it still doesn’t help you get anything done!  It’s likely that putting shoes on, eating breakfast, or leaving grandma’s always ends in an all-out war.  But did you know that arguing with them is the worst thing you can do? Don’t worry — we have a few tips!  

Use no less.  It’s no surprise that toddlers often act like parrots — if you say it, you’ll hear it from their mouth shortly after!  Toddlers often hear the word “No” from their parents for requests that can’t be allowed, tantrums that must be stopped, and so on.  Instead of saying no, however, try wording it differently — instead of “NO running!” try “let’s walk, Bitsy!”

Teach other responses.  When your little one is adamant that they will not do that, try teaching them other phrases like, “no, thank you.”  Or discussing the options of “maybe”. Giving them other responses shows them that it doesn’t need to be violent or black and white!

Offer options.  Instead of asking your Bitsy yes or no questions, give them the choice of two options.  “Would you like broccoli or potatoes with lunch?” It won’t get rid of the “NO!’s” altogether, but it will help cut back when it’s not even on the table.

Put your foot down.  Sometimes there’s just no way around it, and there’s going to be no surrender from either side.  This is the time to firmly say, “I’m sorry, this just is what it is” and move on with life. You may end up with a tantrum, but this phase will pass!  


You and your Bitsy will both survive this, Mama, we promise!  As always, practice as much patience as possible, and understand that your toddler is just learning!