No. No. No.

The resistance is upon us.

I’m not talking about politics or civil rights. I’m talking about the toddler “no” stage.

Everything is no. Time to go. No. Let’s get your pajamas on. No. Are you all done with your food. No. (Even after the ASL signal for all done/no more was thrown.) Would you like to go outside. No. Would you like some milk? No. And then she thinks about it…yes, milk.

It is practically a muscle memory response. And maybe it is. Maybe it’s that my almost two-year-old is expanding her vocabulary but has seen such great results from no that she can’t stop using it.

One thing that is for sure is that this is normal. She has realized that she is her own person, and she is staking a claim on the land that is her independence.


Her job is to be defiant. My daughter is going through what is a normal developmental phase for a toddler. And there may not be an end in site until she is approaching four years of age.

Here are a few ways I battle, er communicate with my Toddler’s no:

Injecting energy. I’m in sales. And sales really is all about energy. One of the hardest sells can be for my toddler to put on her jacket and get ready to go. But if I make it exciting, she is more likely to accept her fate.

Distraction. Welcome to the world, girl. There are things that we, as people, don’t really want to do, but we must. Groceries need to be shopped for. Learning happens at school. Diapers need to be changed. Mom and dad have careers. But I find that if I distract her by pointing out the birds, trees, snow or a song, she is more likely to forget about being defiant and go with the flow.

Reasoning. Yes, I do try this tactic, but to much failure. The more rational adult mind likes to discuss and reason but the toddler brain isn’t there. I usually deploy this as a last result.

Call in reinforcements. We have the advantage (or maybe disadvantage, depending on your perception) of having two kids. And the younger looks up to the older. When the stars align I can pull in my Kindergarten-aged son to help dress my toddler. Try calling in your partner or a friend to help can work, too.

She is my second child, and it’s always a learning process. I have learned though to slow down and take time to decide on my response. Before, I may have been quicker to stone wall, but now I let her say no and decide which response may handle the situation best.

Let’s face it. Conflict is inevitable. And healthy for that matter. So once a course of action has been decided upon, us dads (and moms) must stick together. Giving in will only give your child something to shoot for in the future. This Zero to Three article ends with this note.


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