Thursday, September 5, 2013

Silver Linings: When Your Child is a Rebel

Okay, I will be the first to admit that it is not always easy to find the silver lining when all you are feeling is frustration. When your child just won’t do what you have told them to, or even openly defies you, telling you “No!” and all you want to do is scream, it is not easy to think positively. As frustrating as these times can be, there is a positive.

Right around 18 months old is when most children learn the word ‘No’ and shortly thereafter, they decide that they love it, and don’t ever truly stop saying it. They get older, and grow out of saying it reflexively, but they also get better at expressing their unwillingness to cooperate in other ways, like my eight year old who will sometimes just walk away, roll his eyes, or sigh heavily. I haven’t gotten there yet, but I have a feeling that the teenage years will be even more trying.

The next time your child tells you “No,” try to remember that it can have good implications as well. The child who is able to tell their parents No, is also able to other authority figures No. While not always a good thing, it is good if they are being told to do something bad or unsafe. A child needs to be able to tell someone “no” if they are being told to get in a car with a stranger, for example. 

So, the next time all you want to do is hide from your precious little naysayer, just remember that at least they are learning some tools that can lead to their safety… from strangers, if not from you!


  1. I try not to always use the no, don't, you cannot words, I try to use things like walk instead of saying don't run. It's something I am working on myself!

  2. We're pro-no. I like that my children are able to tell me no, realize when no isn't an option, and vocalize no to other adults when something questionable is being asked of them.

  3. My 3 year old has gone back to this "no" stage, but he doesn't say it that often. When he does this, I ask him if this "no" is appropriate in the situation. Then I tell him why I asked him to do the thing I asked him to do. I also make sure that I tell him when appropriate times to say "no" are. Then I ask if this was one of those times and his response 100% is no.

    When he was a baby, my husband and I refrained from telling him "no" and would simply remove him from the situation instead. We felt it was better to "show" him what he could not do, rather than say a word that held little meaning to him.

  4. I'm dealing itch that know with my 15 month old!

    knickgirl_3 at yahoo dot com

  5. This is a great new perspective on when your toddler is telling you, "no," all the time. My 20 month old LOVES this word and he says it constantly. It can get so frustrating but having it in the back of your head that it is a good learning tool can help ease the frustration!

    Erin K. (

  6. I like your positive perspective. When you are home alone with a child that says no to almost everything it can be frustrating. But thank the Lord, they do grow out of it. As parents we have to set a good example, but kids who don't learn that mom means it when she says no, find no comfort in permissiveness.