Six Ways To Minimize The Need For “No”
In a previous Romp n’ Roll blog (October 14, 2010: Why is “No” a Toddler’s Favorite Word?), it was noted that a young child is psychologically compelled to test the limits of her interpersonal power. Unfortunately, she often chooses to do this by refusing to comply with parental instructions and requests, which can result in very unpleasant power struggles. These can be minimized by offering her appropriate choices instead of direct instructions and requests whenever possible. Here are some ideas for minimizing the need for no by allowing the child to exercise power without having to directly oppose you.
DRESSING. When dressing the child, asking her, “Do you want to put your shirt on first or your pants on first?” rather than telling or pleading with her to put on her shirt.
BATHING. Let the child be in charge of the order in which her body parts are cleaned. Instead of saying, “We’re going to do your ears now,” simply ask, “What should we wash first?” and “What next?”
FEEDING. To the extent it is suitable, allow the child to participate in planning the menu for a meal. For example, you can say, “We’re having chicken and string beans this evening. Do you want mashed potatoes or rice with that?”
SHOPPING. Give the child a chance to select appropriate options within basic categories. For example, you can say, “We’re not getting cookies or candy today, but are getting ice cream. What do you think? Should we get vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry?”
BEDTIME. Lay out the steps that are required, such as changing into pajamas, using the toilet, brushing teeth, etc. But let the child decide in which order they will take place. If a story-reading session is included, permit the child to choose the book – even if it is the same one she chose the night before, and the night before that, and the night before that.
PLAY ACTIVITIES. Offer the child as many “equipment” and “area” choices as possible (just like we do at Romp n’ Roll!). For example, rather than saying, “Go to your room and play with your blocks,” you can say, “You can play with your blocks or your dolls or your crayons – which do you want? And you can play with them in your room or here in the kitchen with me – it’s up to you.”
Please leave a comment with other examples of choices you can give your child.