A few we shared:
When LO messes with the trash 'trash stays in'
I like to say 'not for baby/LO name'
My friends brother uses red light green light in public
depends on the activity . . . violence (hitting, pinching, scratching, etc) gets "be gentle" in varying tones from nice to very firm depending on the level and repetion of agression. Often paired with me holding his hand and showing him "gentle"
I say be careful a lot, but I am not sure he really understands what I mean by that. I really try to emphasize what I want him TO do vs. what I want him NOT to do. Honestly the only time I think I say "no" a lot is when we are playing his most recent "game" where he sticks his finger in my ear and I go "no, no, not my ear!" in sort of a sing song voice. He thinks it is hilarious. (I think that he thinks it's hilarious to be very funny, but the actual put finger in ear part, not so much)
Now, he does shake his head "no" and nod "yes" and actually does mean those things. but he hasn't said either word yet.
I have used all manner of appropriate phrases. When she's pulling on the cat, I tell her to "be nice." When getting something she's not supposed to-"That's not for Rae Rae." and so on.
However, I don't specifically avoid the word "no" either. If it's appropriate, I will use it. I don't use it automatically, but at the same time, I am not going search out ways just to specifically avoid saying it either. I don't think there's any harm in hearing the word "no" when it's used appropriately. After all it's part of our every day life as adults "no I can't give you a raise this year." "No, we are out of ketchup" etc.
Yeah, that pops out of my mouth fairly often too...Raeanna! Are you SERIOUS, I JUST handed you that dinner WHY did you throw it on the floor!?!?!?! :)
"Solomon, the dog needs her tail, please stop trying to pull it off."
We try to focus on what TO do instead of what NOT to do. Like "Feet on the floor please" instead of "Don't climb on the table."
if he's up to something he knows he shouldnt be.. we say "think again arlo..." it works for pretty much anything.
we also throw in "Be gentle" if hes being too rough with the cat, or the dreaded pinching!
"The dog needs her tail..." might be my favorite.
As a mom, I'm definitely all about teaching what to do instead of just limiting. Whenever my son, as a little one, was doing something he shouldn't be doing we taught him what he should do instead. He learned very thoroughly that some things were his to play with and some were not. As a result, our house was not as babyproofed as others (books in reach, for instance, or stereo components not in closed cabinets). This cause some chaos when other toddlers came to play.
But as a speech therapist I also suggest that "no" be part of the vocabulary. It's a powerful word, and a child using it gets to see a pretty clear relationship between speech and action. Not that you accommodate their "no" every time obviously. Otherwise baths would never happen. ;)
Also, there may be urgent times when the only word you can get out is "NO!" and the reaction from your little one needs to be immediate. Although, if in general your language is calm and instructive, urgency in your voice is a pretty strong attention-getter. (Another reason to talk with kids and avoid the whole shouting thing, which it seems you do!)
I also like the green light/red light thing too. I may steal it!
ugh. we have been saying no a bit lately.... i really value the redirection and the positive statements like everyone seems to be using, we do lots of that. it's been a hard week. the 'no' we have been doing seems to happen after the redirection, after the positive statements.. and dd just kind of stands there and looks at me. so i say no to clarify. it's like she wants that final cue before she can throw the all-out tantrum, i guess.
it goes a little like this:
dd: baf? baf? (points to bathroom/bathtub)
me: we don't take baths in the middle of the day. we take baths at night!
dd: BAF! BAF!
me: i know! i hear you say you want a bath. wait please. you can have a bath after supper! yes, bath, later!
me: ooh.. let's read a book! i know! let's READ a book to your monkey!
dd: BAFBAFBAFBAFBAF (jumping up and down, tears begin to form, giving me the 'look')
me: ok, NO. No bath.
dd: AAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGWWWWAAAAAAa (kicks on the floor, then gets up and trots off to the book basket to get a book....)
so, i don't know. i guess i'm totally doing it wrong. i don't know how else to do this! like i said, this has been a hard hard week.
I probably would have just given in and ran a bath (but then, our DS doesn't beg for a bath. he does sometimes want to play with his bath toys while one of us is in the bathroom, and we let him - usually it is the one that makes noise :) ). . .
Our house is not as baby proofed because some things - like pulling books off shelves - just don't matter to me. I can clean it up (or lately, WE can clean it up. I love this helpful stage!). I try to only say no, or otherwise redirect, when there is a good reason. (like violence, agression, safety, etc) DS is only 15 months, so he isn't there yet, but I know they "why"s are coming, and I do want to have reasons "why" not. Not just "because I said so" though I know there will be those times too. I just don't want it to be a go-to answer.
We use the word 'no' at times, but it's a great thing not to overuse it, otherwise we all stop hearing it after a while. Some of our favourite alternatives:
"Think about it, rabbit."
"Do you think that's a good idea?"
"Sure, we can [whatever she wants] after we [whatever is appropriate]." ie. If she wants to get naked and draw all over herself with marker, I say sure, after we finish our errands and go home and then you can sit in the bathtub and go crazy. Works for nearly everything.
"Gentle touch, love."
"Let's try [alternative] instead."