Initially when a child is learning language, no is easier to say than yes; it is also easier to shake your head no, than nodding yes. As a sense of self starts to develop, answering no allows the child to demonstrate their newly discovered independence, to test the authority of adults and to assert their autonomy.
They will also become very possessive of their belongings and will resist attempts to share.
Here are some suggestions to deal with negativism:
- Monitor your own negative responses. Your positive example will eventually rub off. Rather than saying “NO – don’t write on the wall!” you could say: “we write on paper, here is the paper”
- Are you asking many yes/no questions? Instead of asking: “Do you want to get dressed now?” Do state: “It’s time to get dressed now!”
- Whenever possible give the toddler a choice. Instead of choosing the clothes you can offer the toddler to pick a t-shirt out of 2 choices: “Do you want to put the red or the blue t-shirt on?”
- Whenever possible give the child opportunities to practice self-help. Instead of dressing the child you can support toddlers by offering to hold the t-shirt while encouraging the child to put the arms and the head through the appropriate openings of the t-shirt by themselves.
- Plan and allow enough time to not rush the toddler