How to Handle a Toddler Saying No to Everything

toddler saying no

NO! NO! NO! This is the only word I heard from my daughter since she turned two. Although it can be very stressful for a mom, saying no is a natural stage in your child’s development. Toddler saying no is just a way for your toddler to gain self-confidence by feeling like she has some control over her life too. As parents, we can’t prevent the annoying “no” stage, however, we can learn how to handle it.

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Here are a few strategies to help you deal with your toddler saying no all the time.

How to Deal With Your Toddler Saying No All the Time

Provide controllable alternatives 

It is easy to say no to a no/yes question. However, when there is a choice, your kid will be more willing to choose at least one option. Instead of fighting with your picky toddler over the breakfast, give her a possibility to choose her morning meal on her own. Ask if she wants cereals or toast. You will be surprised how easy your child will make a decision and how happy she will be with her breakfast. What is more important, there won’t be any “no”. By giving your child an opportunity to choose between several alternatives that you control, you engage her to take part in a decision-making process, therefore, creating no need to for her to rebel.

Give reasoning and show how much you care

Providing simple short reasoning to your request, using friendly body language and child’s vocabulary, can help you to make your toddler agree. The best reasoning is the one that shows your empathy as every child wants and needs to feel loved and cared. You don’t really have to be strict all the time. If your child refuses to take his cold medicine, answer saying “I know it does not taste good, but if you don’t drink it you will stay sick and won’t be able to go play outside with other kids. I want you to drink this medicine to get better because I love you and I don’t want you to be sick”. The child will be more inclined to listen to you if she understands the reasons for your request and feels that you care about her in the first place.

Try to avoid using no around the toddler

Have you noticed how many times a day you say no to your child? Your toddler is tired of you saying no as much as you are tired of her refuses. If a parent continuously uses “no” in her requests, the child starts to associate this word with a voice of authority. Hence, when struggling to establish her own rules, your toddler will also use “no” in order to take power and control a situation. Try to avoid using no around the child. Tell your kid what you want, rather than what you don’t want.


Be firm when giving instructions

In some situations, you will have to be firm without giving choices, without providing reasoning and definitely using no. When your child is two or three years old she only begins to learn how to express her opinions and make decisions. However, a toddler cannot be completely responsible for herself. As a parent, you have to make sure your child understands when she can negotiate and when she has to obey. If the toddler stops in a middle of a crossroad and refuses to move, you have to be firm and get her out of the car way quickly, leaving the explanations for later.


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