How To Positively Redirect a Toddler Who Tells You NO!


what to do when you're toddler is in the no phase

There comes a point in every toddler’s life where his favorite word becomes NO! Often this contrariness catches parents off guard, leaving them bewildered and frustrated. Discipline becomes a struggle and punishments seem futile, usually leading the way to a full-blown tantrum. It doesn’t have to be like this! Here are a few tips to help you turn your little one’s no into happy compliance.

Walk Don’t Talk.

Let’s say you ask your little cutie to put his shoes on. His response? NO! Don’t let it catch you off guard. Don’t start bribing or making threats. Don’t even repeat yourself. Simply take his hand and walk him over to the shoes without a word. This generally works like magic, but it has a built-in fix for extra stubborn kiddos. If he resists, remain silent and physically guide him to the next step of the process, such as sitting down or picking the shoe up.  

Ask a Question Instead of Giving a Direction

When Little Johnny’s fork slides out of his grasp at the breakfast table and crashes to the floor, avoid telling him what to do. Instead of commanding him to pick it up and bring it to the sink, try asking him, “Oh! What do you need to do now?” or “Where do you need to put your fork now?” Posing questions that he can answer sets your toddler up for success and encourages him while telling him what to do discourages him and emphasizes his mishap. Using a command also provides an opportunity for a power struggle, while asking a question gives him something to think about and distracts from that possibility.  

Tell Me When…

This one barely switches up your words but it increases your toddler’s chance of compliance so, so much. Instead of telling your little tyke to follow the steps of her bedtime routine, try this: “Tell me when you’re sitting on the potty!” “OK, now tell me when your pajamas are on!” “OK, now tell me when you’ve chosen a story!” It’s important to step back, and even leave the room if you’re comfortable, and allow your child to call you when the task is complete. If you really need to stay within each other’s line of vision, try to distract yourself by reading a book or otherwise busying yourself while she follows each step. Giving her space gives her ownership of her tasks and empowers her to complete them independently, and when you look, you’re so much more likely to want to help or get frustrated with her speed.

Two Fun Choices

This one is a classic. Kid refuses to go potty? “Do you want to hop to the potty or zoom to the potty?” He’ll be right off. She won’t brush her teeth? “Do you want to brush your teeth standing or sitting?” Any way you can incorporate a choice into your direction will help encourage. Just make sure you’re ok with both options! And don’t be afraid to get silly.

Take a Break and Try Again

Use this one when your toddler shows increasing resistance and you suspect it’s for no reason. Just back off, and try again in a few minutes. You may have different results. This one comes with a caveat: one of the most likely reasons our smallest family members get frustrated is that they aren’t feeling understood. Try your best to discern what might be behind your little one’s opposition first. Regardless, there’s no harm in trying to take a break and try again if you’re unsure.

This phase of childhood is hard! Allow yourself to feel frustrated at times while remaining solution-based in your approach. Try new things and repeat those that work. Keeping a positive frame of mind will help you navigate your way through the craziness that is toddlerhood.



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