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13th Jul 2021

Here is why it might just be a good thing that your toddler is obsessed with the word ‘NO’

Trine Jensen-Burke

why it's a good thing when toddlers learn the word 'no'


When it comes to standing your ground, there are plenty of lessons we can all learn from toddlers who have just learned the meaning of free will and the pronounciation of the word ‘no.’

However, when you are in the throws of toddler life, the extensive use of ‘no’ can start to get a little tiresome after a while. Trust me – been there, hung on to my sanity through that.

The thing is, experts remind us, toddlers learning and using the word ‘no’ is actually a good thing. No, really, hear me out.

In fact, the onset of “NO!” signals a child’s first efforts to see themselves as separate from others and examine the world around them more closely.

Physician Rene Spitz has done lots of research into children and language, writes Babyology. And Spitz says that while the word “no” can seem defiant, it’s actually an extremely important part of the toddler’s growth and development.

“No,” he explains, “shows that a child is starting to see the world more clearly with concepts like – yes, no or I am, I am not or you are, you are not or good and bad – beginning to influence their perspective.”

In other words, you little guy or girl are now suddenly recognising that they have the ability to be independent – they are their own person – and they are starting to assert that independence in small but (very!) vocal ways.

Short and efficient

It can be frusterating to parents to be met with so many NO’s – but remember, a toddler’s vocabulary is still very limited, and so their ‘no’ is just a shortened version of whatever they are not okay with at the moment.

No, really, that your toddler has learnt the use of the word ‘no’ just means that they are now aware and engaged with situations – and that they now know that they have a voice too, and that they can object to things happening to or around them.

And while this might now always be super-practical to you, it really is such a leap in terms of their developement, and your toddler’s ability to asses the situation and consider what they might really be feeling.

And for you, mama, that ‘no’ can be a cue to knowing what your child is thinking and feeling, long before they have more words and a bigger vocubulary to explain it.