What Do You Do When Your Toddler Says No ?

What do you do?


When your toddler says no and it seems like he just shouts down everything you say, what is going on and what can you do about it?

Read the problem below, it may be just what is needed.

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Is There A Problem If Your Toddler Says No ?

My 2 year old son has been showing some behavior which I am very much concerned about. This sudden change in behavior started last week.

He suddenly did not want me to come with him anywhere or touch him or bathe him. He acts out this way when his father is around. He is otherwise fine with me. I made it clear to him that this cannot go on. It stopped. He started saying that I should not talk sometime at the end of this week. He has been saying it when I am conversing with his dad. I again told him that he cannot have this attitude anymore.

I just wanted to know whether this behavior is normal in a 2-year-old where he disrespects his mother by saying things to hurt her.

Hope This Answers Your Question

When your toddler says no, it's a very normal behavior. Toddler hood is a process of learning to be independent, but it is also a time of needing reassurance. What you describe is this push and pull between independence/dependence.


The bath time protests are your son's desire to be independent ("I want to do it myself!") and the conversation interruptions are the need for reassurance. Toddlers will always need far more attention than we can ever give them.

I can understand that that this behavior might seem hurtful to you, but I can assure you it is not intended to be. Toddlers have no notion of respect or disrespect - they simply do not understand social rules and are utterly and completely self-centered.

Imagine how much developing they have to do between the ages if 1 and 3 - learning toilet training, physical coordination and expressing themselves - all in a relatively short space of time and without any life experience.

Because of the limited language that young children have, they end up expressing themselves very badly. Their desperation and emotional overwhelm comes over as loud aggression.

Of course this doesn't mean that he should get away with this. You are right to set boundaries, but there is little point explaining it to him. His limited language means you can't be sure what he understands of what you say. (See toddler language for more on this).

In your situation I would deal with bath time independence by continuing to wash him etc and ignore what he says. Do not engage in a debate about it. You are washing him, and that is that. Keeping silent will also help you keep your temper - I'm speaking from experience here!

As for when he interrupts your conversations, when he tells you not to talk, calmly tell him "I am talking. Wait" Finish what you are in the middle of saying, but only make him wait 30 seconds or so. Then get down on his level and talk to him, with 100% attention. Waiting their turn to speak is always torture for toddlers, so that is why I only suggest making him wait 30 seconds.

This method teaches him that he has to compromise, but also communicates that he is important to you.

For more on the toddler says no dilemma, see the 'Positive Discipline - The First 3 Years' by Jane Nelson and Cheryl Erwin, which explains how a child thinks and successful ways to manage them.

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