Letter from the Director!

Toddler Refusal

Do you hear your toddler constantly saying ‘no’? Around two-years of age, toddlers are becoming more and more independent. With this newfound independence comes the all too familiar word ‘no’. This is referred to as ‘Toddler Refusal’.

This stage of development can be exhausting for the parents. As parents, we tend to go along with this and engage in a power struggle with the child. So, what can we as caregivers do to overcome the power struggle? Here are a few suggestions to help you through this independent stage.

The first thing we can do is offer the child choices. Offering limited choices is the best way to avoid a showdown with your toddler. “Do you want to put your shoes on yourself, or would you like me to help you?” “Would you like to take a bubble bath, or would you like to add color to your water tonight?” To make this option work, you must keep in mind that you know more than your toddler, and everything can be turned into a choice. For the above example about the child’s shoes, the end goal is to have the child put on their shoes. Let them choose how that looks by giving two appropriate choices.

Second, do you tend to tell your child ‘no’ often? Your toddler might be saying ‘no’ because that is what they are hearing. Try using alternatives to ‘no’ whenever possible. Try replacing the word with other phrases more specific to the situation. For example, your child may be climbing on chairs or the table. Instead of telling your child no, simply say “It isn’t safe to climb on the table. If you would like to climb, let’s go climb on the jungle gym.” Be sure to tell the child what they can do instead of what they can’t. At this stage, we must teach them appropriate actions. Give them positive alternatives whenever possible.

Keep in mind that there will be those times where it is appropriate for you to stand your ground. For example, if your child is running and standing in the middle of the street and refuses to move, you will go and move them for safety. This is not the time to give appropriate choices. Safety comes first. There may be other times when it is okay to tell your child, “This is not a time for choices. I know you don’t like this, and I am sorry, but this is how it must be.”

Children need to learn to say no and voice their opinions. If we teach them that saying ‘no’ is inappropriate, how will they know to say ‘no’ when it really counts?

Lisa Frye

Site Director

DCD Downtown

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300 Frank Phillips Boulevard, Suite 200 | Bartlesville, OK 74006

(918) 977-3600 | dcd@delawarechild.org

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