Say No to "No": Setting Positive Limits
When you're dealing with a busy, boundary-pushing toddler, it sometimes feels like the only words in your vocabulary are "no" and "stop." After a while they become nothing but white noise, ignored by everyone (especially that toddler). Fortunately, there are a few more positive ways to set effective limits with your power-hungry little one.
- Try to stay positive. Toddlers don't always understand the concept of NOT doing something, so it can be helpful to tell them what you'd like them to do instead of telling them what you don't want them to do. In other words: Rather than saying "No running!" or "Stop yelling!" try "Please walk," or "Use your quiet voice now."
- Use the power of the misdirect. Redirecting their attention away from a misbehavior trigger with something new and exciting (and, obviously, acceptable) can diffuse a potential problem.
- Get on their level. When you're trying to communicate with your toddler, bend down to her eye level, gently place your hands on her arms or shoulders and make eye contact as you're talking to her. It will help her keep her focus on you and what you're saying without it feeling adversarial.
- Make it OK to say "no." You'll start hearing "NO!" quite a bit from your toddler, probably in response to just about every request. When you can, honor it. She needs to know that it's OK to say "no" sometimes.
- Don't be scared of the "y" word. Practice saying "yes" whenever you can -- choose your battles with "no." If you save "no" for truly terrible behavior (hitting, etc.), then it will have more impact when you say it.