Skip to main content
Baby Corner logo
Login | Sign Up

How to Say "No!" to Your Adorable Toddler

Katlyn Joy |23, September 2013


It's that cute age of chubby legs and sticky smiles, where your child is firmly caught between babyhood and childhood. It's also the beginning of the battle of wills and the need to set limits. In most families there is one parent who struggles to be firm. One may rather look the other way or giggle at the minor catastrophes. However, there will be a price to pay later for such laxness.

Disciplining your toddler is one of the essential parental duties that your toddler relies on. You may be failing your child if you fail to discipline and that begins with the word, "No." Here are some ways to institute discipline in your toddler's life with as few tears as possible, on both sides.

Create a world where "No" is avoidable most the time.
If your little one loves dumping out your cabinets, then only put unbreakable items in the bottom cabinets. Should your child have an insatiable need to write on everything with everything, keep all markers, crayons and pens out of sight and reach. If the doggie bowl is tempting, keep the pet food in a room with a gate.

Don't let the melt downs just happen.
Melt down triggers include: fatigue, hunger, thirst and boredom. It's not a good idea to take a trip to the grocery store during nap time or when you know your little one hasn't had lunch. This could, and very well may turn in a screeching episode between aisles one through nine!

Use your toddler's short attention span to your advantage.
It works something like this: "Here! Put down Grandma's antique vase and come play with this shiny thing!" Kids may wail and convulse to keep something in their tiny clutches. That is until you display something else. Distraction is one of the easiest tools in a parent's discipline tool chest. Use it well and use it often.

Remember the logic isn't there.
If you are having involved conversations about the merits of good behavior and the dangers of bad with your toddler, he probably will not respond well due to his lack of understanding. Sometimes we try so hard to see our child as intelligent beings that we overdo it. Keep commands short simple and to the point. Don't give superfluous information.

Recognize outright mutiny when it's facing you right in the eyeballs.
There will come a moment when your sweet baby turns around and stares you down, doing the exact thing you just said no to. You will think, "Is she defying me?" Yes, she is. You know she is. This is one of those moments when you must act. Scoop up your little sweetheart, say firmly, "Mommy said no!" and plop her little diapered behind onto a thinking chair, or quiet mat or whatever special space you've assigned for such rebellious moments.

Make being good more fun than being bad.
Who loves attention more than a toddler? They eat it up when they get a reaction, especially their parents. Catch your toddler doing things right, listening to you, being sweet and make a fuss over them in the same dose as you would if they did the opposite. Reward good behavior not with a constant stream of treats and goodies, but positive attention.

Keep your sanity.
Now what this involves does to an extent depend on the individual, but in general, get sleep somehow, eat right, and take a moment for yourself when you can. Forget what the lady behind you at the check out counter thinks. You know what you are doing, and if you don't, so what? Parenting has a definite learning curve. Sometimes we feel so much pressure and so many eyes on us, we don't handle a discipline situation the way we want to. Forget everyone else and focus only on your child and what you want to do in this situation. If at home and at your wit's end with your little one, put them in a safe area and take some deep breaths, find something happy to dwell upon and refocus yourself. Give yourself permission to make mistakes. You will, so you might as well get over it. Have a buddy to vent to, recognizing they will need to do the same at times.

Finally, remember that while these days with a toddler may seem to last forever, the years will slip by. Hang in there and enjoy the moments while they last!

Related Articles

How to Keep Your Toddler from Getting Into Everything!

When Your Toddler Is a Picky Eater

Transitioning from Crib to Toddler Bed

Tips for Traveling With Your Toddler

Understanding and Helping Your Shy Toddler


Showing 1 - 1 out of 1 Comments
Add Comment or question.

littlekingdom Oct 1, 2013 08:35:55 AM ET

Awesome article. So many times we get asked by parents of our preschool kids about their kids doing this or that and if it's normal and how to tackle stuff. Definitely am sharing your article.

Reply | Report

Add Comment

You are commenting as .

Month by Month Baby Calendar
Learn what to expect during your baby's first years with our month by month baby calendar. Choose your baby's age below to see how your baby is developing.
1 Week
2 Weeks
3 Weeks
4 Weeks
2 Months
3 Months
4 Months
5 Months
6 Months
7 Months
8 Months
9 Months
10 Months
11 Months
12 Months
13 Months
14 Months
15 Months
16 Months
17 Months
18 Months
19 Months
20 Months
21 Months
22 Months
23 Months
24 Months

Photo Contest - WIN!
Enter your baby into Baby Corner's free baby photo contest for a chance to win prizes!

Baby Photo Contest Home
Upload & Manage Your Photos
See Past Winners!

New Today at Baby Corner