What should I do if my toddler says "no" a lot?

Q: My toddler's favorite word is "no" and she says it all the time. What should I do?

A: Saying "no" is one way young children express their growing sense of independence and power, which isn't necessarily a bad thing -- until they start compromising their safety, like saying "no" to getting in the car seat. Your toddler could also be testing you to see exactly what you'll let him get away with and what you'll stand firm on. Experts suggest using time-outs to make it clear to your child who's in charge and which issues are most important to you. When your toddler refuses to listen to your request, place him in a naughty chair or an area away from you and any other kids for two or three minutes (if you're out, choose a place that's away from all the fun, but still safe and within your line of sight). Although a toddler's defiance can be maddening, try not to lose your temper. If you're patient and consistent with time-outs, your son will get the message and the "no's" should start to dwindle from his vocabulary.

Copyright 2002. Updated 2009

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