Saying no to your toddler when they really, really, really wants something

When you see those puppy-dog eyes staring back at you – when they up the ante with pleases and extra kisses, your plan of standing your ground can evaporate into nothing even as you try to stand firm.

Giving in to your little one’s requests every once in a while isn’t a bad thing – it shows that you’re listening to them, and that you want them to have the things they want.

However, there’s a limit to the number of times that saying yes will make you or Baby any happier, and there’s a good chance that some of the things they ask for won’t always be practical, safe, healthy, or possible, so there will be times when saying yes won’t even be an option. Sometimes, you have to stand firm even if it’ll cause a little heartbreak.

No means no

No matter how much the word ‘no’ can feel like it’s crushing both of you, if you’re going to say no, showing Baby will ultimately help them feel more secure in their relationship with you.

Explain just enough

Giving an explanation to Baby when both of you are overwhelmed or frustrated is hard, so when Baby first makes their request, it can be helpful to have a simple reason ready. This can be as basic as, “it’s too close to dinnertime.”

Trying to explain too much can make it seem like you’re wavering from your refusal, and as Baby gets older, longer explanations will give them more opportunities to argue with you.

Sorry isn’t always the way to go

While it’s true that being able to apologize is one of the best personality traits a person can have, there are situations when apologies aren’t going to help you or Baby out.

“Sorry, but I didn’t buy you the Lego set because you just got one last week.”

“Sorry I didn’t allow you to swim by yourself, but the pool was too deep for you.”

“Sorry I didn’t let you eat all those candies because they gave you a tummy ache the last time.”

Maybe you stood firm on your decision for Baby’s safety, or just because not every trip to the grocery store is the right time for a special treat. But if your reason for saying no is for the best for Baby, saying you’re sorry can confuse the issue. Even if you’re sorry that Baby is upset, the nuance may not come across when they are this age.

Distraction works

Bribery is like distraction, but it’s not the same, and it’s not as healthy a way to deal with an issue as a true, positive distraction. Choosing beneficial activities that your child can’t resist is a win-win. Playing a game with your tot or visiting a nearby park for a while will often be enough to keep their mind off the topic.

Standing firm when you and Baby are on opposite sides of a battle of wills is tough, but it’s only through saying no now and then that you can start to teach Baby about the importance of self-control and delayed gratification.

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