The All Consuming & Ever Annoying “No” Phase

When your child latches onto a word, you better pray it isn’t “no”


If my son was writing this blog post, and he could type, he would be writing the word “no” over and over again. Why? “No” is his all-time favorite word at present and has been for at least the last month. Ask him anything, and the answer will be “no”.

I can literally ask him if his name is Holt (and he does understand that his name IS Holt) and he’ll say, “No!” Ask him if he’d like some ice cream (which he loves) and his immediate answer will be “No!” Ask him if he wants to play with his trucks (which he loves) and he’ll say, “No!” Ask him anything and his first answer will be “No!” Even if he doesn’t mean “no,” he’ll say “no”.

I remember this stage very clearly with my daughter, Rowan, now 11. When she hit two, she started saying “no” to everything. So we recognize that we are now in the “no” phase with my son, and quite frankly I find it beyond annoying. I would rather have the chicken pox than to go through this “no” phase. I’d rather change his diapers and put him to bed every single night (not an easy feat) than hear the word “no” one more time, that’s how annoying I find it. I would sell my soul to the devil if I didn’t have to hear that word come out of his mouth one more time. (Too extreme? You clearly aren’t dealing with the “no” phase.)

I think the term Terrible Twos came about from some frustrated parent, not because of the Terrible Two tantrums, but because of the Terrible Two “no” phase.

I would prefer it if my son have a ten-minute tantrum, screaming at the top of his lungs, in public, than to hear him constantly saying “no” all the time.

My son, objectively, is a pretty smart toddler. He knows when he has poop in his diaper and he will tell me so, because he hates staying in dirty diapers.

But then if you say to him, in response, “Oh, you have a poop? Do you want me to change your diaper?” his answer will no doubt be, “No.” But then, after about six “No’s” he’ll allow me to change him, just as he’ll eat ice cream, after saying “No,” and he’ll play with his toy cars after saying “No.”

Because I like experiments, I planned to spend one entire day last week counting how many times he said “No” over the course of 24 hours. By 10 a.m. (in the three hours he was awake) he said “no” 38 times. I stopped counting after that. And because I consider myself a “playful” mother, (a.k.a. an immature mother,) I’ve started saying “no” back to him every time he says “no” to me.

Sometimes we can go back and forth saying “no” to each other twenty times. You know the old saying, “fight fire with fire.”

So here I am, a 41-year-old mother acting like a two-year-old herself. I know the “no” phase is just a phase. Still, this is one of the most grating phases of a toddler’s (and mother’s) life.  I can’t read his mind, so I have no clue why his, and most two-year-old’s, favorite word is “no.”

I think toddlers are smarter than we think. I think they say “no” to see how much it annoys us and that, in turn, makes them happy. Sometimes when he says “no” I look into his eyes, and I swear, I can see him thinking, “Ha ha! Mommy is getting annoyed! I think it’s hilarious. So I’m going to keep saying it!”

“No” doesn’t mean “no” to a toddler.

I’m convinced it just means they are screwing with you.

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