Adventures in Attachment Parenting: The Dreaded No by Allison Silver

Since our daughter was born my husband and I have made a conscious effort not to use the N-O word as much as possible. Of course there are times when we have to say no. But instead of using the N-O word we usually say that something is “not for Charley” and then redirect her to something that is for Charley. We deliberately chose this strategy to try and avoid her hearing “No” all the time and repeating it back to us.

This was a great idea in theory. But this past week our daughter turned seventeen months and like clockwork she began to say the dreaded No. What amazes me is that she uses it in perfect context. She typically will say, “No No No” and shake her head at you or will take something away from you that she doesn’t want you to have. We’ve discovered that she uses the no word to indicate that you are not doing something the way she thinks it should be done. It’s almost as if she would like to say, “No not like that, like this!” And to top it off it’s beyond cute. It really does take everything I have to not smile or laugh when she does it. But instead I simply say, “Yes, yes, yes” back to her.

Perhaps my hubby and I have said No more than we thought. But what’s really funny to me is that I don’t say, “No no” and shake my head. But guess who does? My mom. I noticed that my mom did this a few times when she was visiting us during our move. My mom lives in New Mexico so it’s not like she models this all of the time. Could Charley pick it up that quickly during her visit? Or is the dreaded NO just something that is ingrained in our DNA?

Another trick that I’m trying to use to avoid overuse of our new favorite word is to say, “Stop. Danger.” When something is dangerous. At our old house we lived in a typical neighborhood. Charley loved to walk down the driveway to the sidewalk and would get upset when she wasn’t allowed to go into the street. So instead of saying, “No” I would let her get to the sidewalk and I would say, “Stop. Danger.” Each time I said this she would stop and turn to look at me. She never went into the street. Who knows how long this will work before the novelty wears off,but for right now I’m adding it to my bag of tricks to avoid overuse of the “No” word.

And sometimes no matter how great your intentions are you just gotta say, No. This week I took Charley to a local gymnastics center where on Tuesdays and Wednesdays they open it up to toddlers and their parents as an open gym. Charley loves it! The floors are padded and she loves to climb up and walk on the mats. I met a new mom there this week who had a three year old daughter and a nine month old son. Her daughter wanted to play with Charley but was quite physical. At one point she ran across the mat and literally tackled Charley pushing her down. Thank goodness the floor is heavily padded but poor Charley had no clue what just hit her. My mom instincts kicked in and I scooped up my child who was a bit stunned and I looked at the three year old and said, “No. We don’t do that.” Her mom was incredibly apologetic about the entire situation and no one got hurt.

Later when I reassessed the situation in my head, the first word that came out of my mouth was “No!”  Now, as an early childhood teacher, I know what I probably should have said was, “Ouch, that kind of playing is too rough and it scared Charley. If you want to play rough you need to ask first.”  But it’s always easier to reflect on what you should have done after the fact. And no matter how much training you have, sometimes you just revert back to saying, No! It really must be part of our DNA!

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  1. One Response to “Adventures in Attachment Parenting: The Dreaded No by Allison Silver”

  2. I was just like you with my son when he was a toddler! I almost never said “no,” tried to model appropriate, assertive behavior and not over-react with other children on playgrounds or playgroups, and I think it must have paid off. My son is not a “no” child. I also did the same thing when walking towards street corners. I would say, “Stop! Car!” and we would look for cars. Later, when my son and his ADHD took off, he would run to a corner and if I even heard a car nearby, I would yell, “CAR!” That was his signal to stop and look for cars. He is much more mature and knows the hand signals when he rides his bike. But I still have to yell out, “Car!” just to keep him on his toes! ;)

    By Cara Meyers on Apr 4, 2013