What begins as amusing quickly moves to aggravating as parents become very familiar with their child’s newly discovered defiant streak.
Kids LOVE to say no. It is their first really powerful verbal communication in life. And the truth is, kids have a real and genuine need for power. Not in an evil-genius, world domination kind of way….but simply in a “I may be little, but I’m a person too” kind of way.
As a toddler discovers that he is a separate individual from his beloved parent and an independent agent in his world, it is his job to now figure out how to operate as such. A simple and effective way to get this information is to check out how much control he has…..hence, the emergence of “no.”
So, if kids deserve to experience power and control in their lives does that mean we should give it to them all the time? Now it’s my turn…. “NO!”
Giving kids too much “No”-Power will create many challenges…both in your family and in your child’s development. Too many choices can feel scary for a kid. Regardless of how certain they are that they should be able to make all of their own decisions, the truth is that they need you to guide them and create a safe path for them through this big world…..
So the trick is to give kids power and choice in ways that work for you as the parent and serve the larger goal of guiding your child through this part of their life successfully.
In my work with parents I help them look at creating “small choices” for toddlers and young children in a way that offers their growing child the experience of control and power while still maintaining structure and boundaries that protect the balance of the family and serve everyone else’s needs as well.
This takes some exploring, experimenting, and plenty of practice…..but it will land you in a more balanced place where everyone is satisfied with the balance of power in the family.