Thursday, February 2, 2012

On Saying No to Naughty Toddlers

I wrote before that I had surprised myself by being a pretty lax parent who rarely said no. This was when little R was younger, however, and now that she has officially turned into a toddler, discipline has become important.

I still don't like saying no; however, I dislike hard work more, and there is no better way to create hard work for yourself than to not set boundaries from the start. I have to be absolutely consistent and firm now, to save myself work down the line. For example, every single time little R touched a power cord, I told her "no"; if she didn't listen, then she got physically removed. After doing this over and over, she doesn't touch them anymore, because she knows what the rules are and what the result will be. This means less work for me, as now I don't have to watch her closely when around appliances.

Unfortunately, the power cord problem is (mostly, as occasionally little R like anyone else will revisit her boundaries to see if they hold) solved, but other issues are not. Now that little R is older, more enterprising, and more mobile, there are so many new rules to introduce (the not playing with electric sockets rule; the not unrolling toilet paper rule; the putting on shoes when going outside rule, etc.). I have to say no all day long, over and over and over. Both the negativity and the consistency are exhausting.

It's also hard due to little R's (completely understandable) reaction. She wants so much to do as SHE wants, now that she has an opinion, and when she isn't allowed to, she finds it extremely frustrating. This means meltdowns into tears, screaming in frustration and rage at her inability to do as she pleases. I feel really sorry for her.

Usually I end up holding and consoling her in her grief, telling her that I understand that she is sad and frustrated, and I'm sorry that she can't do what she wants. I am not sure if this is a good idea (since aren't I kind of rewarding her with attention for her temper tantrum?). On the other hand, I want her to learn how to handle negative feelings, so I need to model calmness and kindness for her, so she can apply it to her own self as she matures.

What I have less tolerance for is the deliberate naughtiness, where she goes to do something she knows is forbidden, looking at me and smiling as if it were a game. She is testing me, which is normal and fine, but the sauciness of it is maddening. I understand why people spank their toddlers, because I too want to show her it's not a game, that it is serious and I mean business. (I will not be spanking her, because I believe it to be ineffective and possibly harmful.) At least she is developing right on track!


  1. I've been doing a lot of reading about saying "no" recently, and actually, letting her know that her feelings are valid and that you understand is a good way to respond. Another suggestion is to say "no, but you can do something else" or "not right now, but we will do that later/some other time." and follow through.

    I'm kind of nervous to get to this point, because Ginny is such an opinionated baby, she might as well be a toddler. I'm already chasing her around the house trying to keep her out of trouble!

  2. Thanks for the advice, Jessica! I appreciate it.