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Saying 'No' to 'no'..

What's wrong with the word 'no'? Here are 4 thoughts about it, and 3 solutions..

1) Science tells us that young children don't understand the word 'No' - it's an abstract concept that their brains cannot process. So when we say 'Don't run', the only word they can form a picture of in their head is the word 'Run'.. So, guess what they do?!!

You guessed it!!

If you want to see the science behind brain development and abstract thinking in young children, start by looking at these videos of Jean Piaget's experiments..

Even better, if you happen to have a child aged 3-6, try out the idea yourself!

2) Telling very young (under 2) year old children not to do something is futile! As we've said above, their brain isn't developed to a stage of reasoning. So even with something dangerous, like sticking their fingers in electric sockets, touching something hot, or biting/hitting, they 'know' they will get a 'No' from you, but they will still do it.

3) If we find ourselves regularly saying No (or be careful) to everything our children want to do, then I think it can be helpful to question ourselves. Especially if, like me, you're a mum. We tend to be overprotective, and want to keep our children safe. But they need some risk taking, they need to experiment and learn for themselves.

4)The other thing about 'no' is that, when we say 'No', we enter into confrontation with our child - and they'll respond to us from that space, with their brain triggered.

So, what can we do instead?

1) Save our 'STOP' or 'NO' for dangerous situations. We would use 'STOP' with our hand out as well, as the combination of words and an action helped our children integrate it.

2) With very young children, we need to use distraction and redirection. So when you see your baby/young toddler going for the electricity cable, you can call out their name, and distract them with a funny face/a toy. If that doesn't work, then scoop them up and move to another space. In fact, for children under 4, the three main tools that Positive Discipline recommends are Supervision, Distraction, and Redirection.. All day long!

3) We can also rephrase things. Instead of 'No', we could

a) Use limited choices - Do you want to do A or B?

b) Describe what you see - 'You chose the blue bowl. And now you are crying because your brother has the yellow bowl.'

c) Check your child's understanding 'What was our agreement about when we would leave the park?'

d) Ask a question - 'What is it you don't like about this toy?

If you want to learn more alternatives to 'No', and understand how it feels when a child hears 'No', then join me for our parenting workshops this Autumn.

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