Help Your Toddler Understand the Word NO

When teaching your toddler anything, it’s important to know their language and what makes them tick. The same is true for teaching them the meaning of “no,” which many consider a very important command. In fact, teaching your toddler the meaning of this word can keep him from getting hurt or worse.

According to pediatricians and other experts, toddlers respond better to verbal commands when they are followed up by action. When it comes to toddlers, actions really do tend to speak louder than words! Understanding that physical follow-through helps communicate the message is key to successfully teaching your toddler the meaning of “no.” It’s a good idea to note, however, that the age-old method of slapping hands to teach a toddler “no” is not generally recommended by experts these days.

What Kind of Follow-Through?

Experts recommend physical follow-through and behavioral follow-through. For example, if you say “no” to your toddler who is about to climb over a table, back up your firm “no” with physical removal of your toddler from the table. You may have to repeat this, and it’s also recommended that you redirect your toddler to something else after the “no.” Make sure you praise him when he engages in the “right” activity, and change your voice to firm and stern when you have to repeat the “no” and remove him again.

Following through regarding behavior basically means sticking with your guns. If you say “no” to an activity or toy, don’t renege on that “no.” Your toddler will learn you don’t always mean it when you say “no,” and will test each time to see if you actually mean what you say.

Positive Reinforcement

For some parents, the toddler years are complicated by a newborn baby in the house. Toddlers tend to “act up” when you are nursing the newborn or changing his/her diaper. That’s when follow-through can be just about impossible! Here are some tips.

* Feed your baby in a sling or other carrier so that you can be somewhat mobile if you have to be.

* Make baby feeding or changing time into “fun time” with your toddler. Establish a special toy or activity that your toddler only gets to do when you are engaged with the baby. Hopefully, your toddler will begin to look forward to baby care time, because he or she gets to play with the special toy.

* You can also make nursing time into book-reading time. Your newborn will benefit from the reading aloud, and your toddler can snuggle up with the both of you for story time. Again, it helps your toddler look forward to the times when you care for the baby.

* Try to have some mom-and-toddler and/or dad-and-toddler time each day, one-on-one. Not only does this give your toddler attention, but it also builds your communication and overall relationship, making “no” carry that much more weight.

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