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What to do when your child says no to everything

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I have a 2.5 year old who normally listens pretty well. I can reason with her when we disagree and she will usually do as I say. The last two weeks everyone in the family has been taking turns being sick and I think it has just thrown off her normal groove. The last couple days have gone more back to normal and then today she just woke up a monster. Every single thing I have asked her to do today has ended up being a huge ordeal. She wouldn't eat the breakfast she asked for. Wouldn't get dressed. Wouldn't clean up her toys. Wouldn't take a bath. Wouldn't lie down with me for a much needed nap. I guess I mostly just needed to vent. I am still not feeling at my optimum and I feel like I've helped to make this day a disaster. I just don't know what I should have done instead. What do you do when you get the shampoo in her hair and she refuses to let you rinse it out? Or she doesn't care about putting clothes on because she doesn't want to go anywhere anyway (she needed to put clothes on to stay warm as she's been sick but I was trying to tell her that she couldn't go anywhere unless she got dressed)? I don't really know what I'm asking I just needed a place to vent. I am practically in tears, I have done such a horrible job parenting today! Dh took her out for a walk at the public gardens so that I could have some time alone and maybe that's all I needed. Anyway, thanks for the support ladies and any advice would be a big plus.
post #2 of 15
sounds normal for her age and her wanting to see what the limits are in the house and also wanting to be independent etc... forgive me if I am not using the best terms to explain this... what I would do would be to give her a lot of choices and when she doesn't like the choice she makes then say "im sorry you are unhappy with your choice. i hope you like the next choice you make" and begin talking about what is next in the day so she can prepare herself for the next choice she is going to make. You can enforce the boundaries without it being mean. You can support her and share her feelings about things and still let the rules stand as they are.

for hygeine issues I usually say "i know you dont like your hair being washed, but we do this to stay healthy" it stinks when your kids cry, but I dont think being a gentle mother means your children will NEVER cry it just means you dont make them cry unneccesarily and you comfort them when they are upset and are compassionate. does that make sense? i bet in a week or less she will see that you dont want her to be upset but that some things have to be done for her to be healthy and you do let her make a lot of choices but the day isnt going to be a change your mind and say no to everything every 30 second ordeal either.
post #3 of 15
Oh, can I ever relate! My Ds love the work "No" right now! One thing that has been working (sometimes!) is to remind him of what comes next. So when he doesn't want to get dressed I might say "Oh, you don't want to go outside to play? Ok." and I give him a bit of space. Almost without fail he will say "I want to go outside!" and I will say "great! me too. Let's get our clothes on so we can do that." Same for handwashing after a meal ("oh, you don't want to read a book at quiet time? we have to have clean hands for that!") getting on a bib ("oh you don't want to eat right now?") etc etc. I hope things go better for you tomorrow!
post #4 of 15
I alternate between tearing my hair out and getting silly.

"Do you want to wear the red shirt or the blue one!"
"No, I dont want to get dressed!"
"Do you want to wear a pink sock and a blue sock?"
"No, I don't want to get dressed!"
"Do you want to wear a fuzzy penguin?"
"fuzzy penguin? No!"
"Do you want to wear a snake?"
"eww, no!"
"how about a fish?"
"how about an elephant?"
"too big!"
"oh, then how about an ant?"
"oh, how about a shirt?"

I also remember to quit asking questions, and sometimes just do things. "I'm going upstairs to get dressed."

Finally, remember that after you've been sick it takes two full weeks to get back to 'normal'.
post #5 of 15
great tips Lynn!
post #6 of 15
1. Don't ask. (It's time to get dressed. vs Do you want to get dressed now? Or even better, just take her hand & go to get dressed.)
2. Give her limited choices. (Do you want the red shirt or the green shirt?)
3. Allow for more autonomy. (Time to put your shirt on. Will you do it, or shall I help you?)
post #7 of 15
Also, limit the times YOU say the word No to when it's absolutely necessary.
post #8 of 15
Moving Mama we use that last one a lot - do you want to ____ or should mommy do it/help... works like a charm!
post #9 of 15
My DS is like that. You could offer him a big piece of cake, and he'd say, "NO" just for the sheer joy of disagreeing with me.

I try and choose my battles. Like I think pretty carefully about what's really necessary. Those things, like changing a dirty diaper or the carseat or keeping raisins out of your ears, I don't ask-- I just tell him I'm going to do it, and then do it. He can protest if he likes, and I'll sympathize, but I don't ever ask him, "do you want to get the raisin out of your nose?" because I sure enough KNOW what he'll say.

Then with the less critical stuff, I usually just let it slide. I try and ask myself if it's an issue of health, safety, and serious rudeness. If it's not, I'll say, "okay, you know best" or "whatever you say, Buddy" and just let it go.

The hard part is deciding which battles are worth fighting, so that you're not spending the entire day in conflict. And sleep is rough. You can decide that naps are non-negotiable, but how, oh how, do you get a child to sleep when he's made up his mind he WON'T? That one continues to baffle me.
post #10 of 15

there are great techniques from pp's to help avoid conflict, but sometimes nothing you do matters!
i have days where i feel like everyone around me is purposely trying to tick me off with everything they do! : i have to work hard to control my negativity on those days... but we can't expect kiddos to manage that herculean task

it sounds to me like you're doing an awesome job! keep up the good (hard) work!

i've seen kids get yelled at or even hit for things like that at the park or zoo, etc.
post #11 of 15
we are SOO in the "NO" world right now too, I agree w/ the PP that said, alternating between tearing your hair out & acting silly.

Around here, we get DS asking for something, and then try to give it to him, and he yells "NOOOOO>".....screaming as he runs all the way through the house. THIS drives me absolutely batty.

Or Pick him up from the neighbors...."Do you want to put your coat on?" and he throws himself on the floor, screaming no, and cries all the way home and half an hour later. (just at being asked, I didn't make him put the coat on, it was high 60's out and we are 2 houses down......so it really was an option, just asking if he wanted it.....I could care less if he did.....now if it's raining or below freezing (about never happens here) I might make him but rarely on what passes for a cold day here).

So we get silly with some of it.....like if he asks for food and then "NOOOO" doesn't want it...."ok fine, mom's gonna eat it, if you don't want it" (which is usually followed by another nooooo! and him taking it)
Same with clothes....oh, ok, mom will wear your pants then.
(lots of tickles in there helps too....Both of us!)

It does get old sometimes....
post #12 of 15
What if you just hand her clothes or simply arrive at her side ready to help her dress? No questions. What if you serve breakfast, sit down with her, and just eat? Skip the part where you ask what she wants; you probably have a pretty good idea of her top choices. What if you start picking up the toys, committed to actually doing it all yourself, and calling for the delivery truck to haul some things to the proper locations? What if you started her bath and found some toys that needed a bath? What if you skipped the bath? What if you locked yourselves (both of you) in a nice safe room, and you took a nap?

Ahh... If only I were this perfect. But, I spend LOTS of time avoiding the "no" trap, and my experience is it extends well beyond the preschool and toddler years.
post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 
These are awesome ideas, mamas! Thank you THANK YOU for sharing your tips and perspectives with me.
post #14 of 15

Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde

Although I am sure that the terrible day you experienced has to do with the family being sick and the usual toddler rebellion, just in case, I wanted to mention that my children have food sensitivities and act differently when they have an overload of something that they are sensitive to. We call it "contrary kid" syndrome. All of a sudden, my normally (mostly) sweet natured child would experience a complete personality change, become defiant, angry, contrary, and most importantly, unhappy - with themselves, others, the world it seems. In time, we learned that red dye was the culprit but dairy products come in second.

We eat healthfully and I'm sure you do too, so it didn't come up very often until my children were eating a wider variety of foods, no longer nursing, and attending play dates, parties, etc. and had the opportunity to share more food with others.

One of my children is so sensitive to red dye that it also comes up from contact with red items: play doh, bath paints, or a new red shirt that hasn't been washed enough to remove the extra dye.

Both of my kids still have the occasional bad day and my 4 year old, in particular, still has plenty of no's in her vocabulary, so I can sympathize with having to struggle for every last thing, all day! I just like to put the information out there every once in a while because as a parent, you can tell when some behavior is just off. If you find yourself asking where your child went, on a regular basis, consider the allergy connection.

post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Froggie View Post
One of my children is so sensitive to red dye that it also comes up from contact with red items: play doh, bath paints, or a new red shirt that hasn't been washed enough to remove the extra dye.

Now that you mention it, my dd had a red vines candy that day which I NEVER give her because I'm paranoid about dies. How common is it to react to red dye? Will one exposure like that effect the child all day long, several days or just hours? Hmmm...
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