What’s happened? Your sweet little baby just turned two and all of a sudden you hear yourself saying it…No, No, NO. Well, it probably seems like you are “always” saying no because you rarely had to say it before. Now that she is two, it’s a whole new ball game. Your child is mobile, curious, exploratory, and also constantly testing you to find out what the rules are. She knows now that she is a separate individual from you, but she is not sure what that means, how she fits in, or what she can or cannot do.
Your two-year-old does not have the skills to put these instinctive needs and questions into words, but she still needs clarification. How can she get her answers if she can’t tell you her feelings or ask you questions? She wants to know what you approve of, what you like and don’t like. The only way to get this clarification is to do things or try things to get your reaction.
When you have to say “no” don’t think of it as a negative response, but as an answer to your child’s unspoken question. You are communicating information she needs. Her behaviors are questions and your reactions to her, whether they are smiles of approval or frowns and “no’s,” inform her of your answers and “the rules.” Knowing these rules helps her to feel safe and secure, which is a very important foundation for her self esteem and continuing development.
There may be lots of “no’s” this year, but they will diminish as your child learns her limits and as she grows closer to the calmer, more cooperative age of three. Remember that you are in charge of one of the most important lessons she will ever learn, and that is that life is not all yes’s. There are many “no’s” or “not now’s” in life, and you are her first and most important teacher of this fact.
You won’t damage self esteem if you say no calmly, quietly and firmly, looking into her eyes. You are simply giving her information she needs. Screaming no and completely losing control could frighten a child or damage self-esteem; this is neither good modeling or effective parenting.
If you are interested in my two parenting books “Growing Happy Kids” (on self esteem) and “Growing Responsible Kids” (on discipline) call Frank Schaffer Publishing at 800-421-5565. If you want my brochures “Tips on Self Esteem” and “Tips on Discipline” see my web site www.askevelyn.com for ordering information, or write me at the address below.
Evelyn Petersen’s nationally syndicated parenting column is carried in over 200 newspapers twice each week. As a family/parenting consultant, early childhood educator, Head Start consultant, and host of a series of parent training audio and video tapes, Ms. Petersen employs an approach of providing hands-on, nuts and bolts advice to parents across the country.Evelyn Petersen’s nationally syndicated parenting column is carried in over 200 newspapers twice each week. As a family/parenting consultant, early childhood educator, Head Start consultant, and host of a series of parent training audio and video tapes, Ms. Petersen employs an approach of providing hands-on, nuts and bolts advice to parents across the country. You can read more from Evelyn at her web site: www.askevelyn.com