Polk Moms

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My two-year-old niece constantly says no. Why is this? It doesn't matter what or how we talk to her. I don't have any children but was wondering how can we get her to stop saying it?

I had just about given up on getting my son to ever stop saying no. I asked his preschool teacher how she handled it. She said that they had a stuffed bear in one corner of the room and the children learned to talk to the bear when they felt the need to say no. I tried it at home using a stuffed monkey and after a couple of weeks, my son talked to the monkey when he felt the need. He knew that if he was going to disagree or wanted to yell, to go do it to the stuffed animal. It may sound strange, but it worked. - Amy C. in Cincinnati, OH

FROM JODIE:

This is a normal state of development for a two-year-old. Children this age will pick up on words that they hear frequently and repeat them and may not even know exactly what they mean. It's a way for her to show some type of self-expression. I know that telling you this doesn't help much because constantly hearing that one tiny word can drive people to want to scream and run out of the room. Adults hear it as a word with very negative connotations. But to your niece, it is an easy word to verbalize and as she has learned, it gets a reaction out of everyone she says it to. If you find yourself or others saying it to her often, try to cut down on using it. If she goes to daycare, she probably hears it many times each day that she's there. It may not necessarily be directed at her but to other children or situations, so it's going to be a pretty natural word in her vocabulary. She may say it more when she is agitated, tired, hungry or sick. Remember, when you hear it, it may not mean what you perceive it to. For example, she may be saying no but she means yes. Watch for that as well. When we lived in Louisiana, I noticed parents saying, "ta-ta," instead of using the word "no." I thought this was ingenious, so I started doing it with my own kids. It worked like a charm. Another thing that might help her cut down on using the word is to change the subject or provide an acceptable alternative. Like maybe instead of telling her to pick up her toys, help her do it and praise her when it's done. Of course, sometimes the word is appropriate like when children are running into the street or doing something that could harm themselves or others. Also, the tone of your voice is key in saying any word.

CAN YOU HELP?

My daughter had a very hard school year. There are really mean, rude and crude girls in middle school. We went to the office several times and saw little done to improve the situation. How's the best way to handle my 13-year-old daughter's strange friends and threatening non-friends?

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