When a tornado may develop, there are several atmospheric signs to look for. The sky may turn green. The wind may stop abruptly. Hail may pelt the ground. A cloud of debris approaches. Conditions become way too dangerous to human fragility. Everyone must take cover for safety.
A similar environment is created by some toddlers. Many kiddos are like little wildflowers, little fireworks ready for ignition, smaller versions of one of Mother Nature’s works of exponential force. They don’t mean to wreak havoc sometimes; they just do. Parallel provisions must be made when Jai gets into this…mood. The climate she harvests is newer in terms of its arrival at our home, but interesting in its paradigm. Its primary sign of advance is in the repetitious use of a singular phrase.
Or, verbalized in song form: “Nooooo.”
My baby girl has discovered a group of diverse levels of the feelings surrounding “no.” Admittedly, I had never recognized how different rebuffs could actually be, mainly because we did not experience a “no phase” with her older brother. I have already witnessed plain dislike or displeasure. Minor whines, rarely tears. There’s unwillingness to participate, which includes louder pronouncements of her favorite expression. Hostility increases from here with shriller tones of repudiation and abhorrence. She gets big mad at this point. Loathing. Terminating outrage. Temper tantrum volcanic eruptions.
This is when we run and hide in a cellar. We don’t recommend anyone try to face her head-on when she reaches F5. Just let nature do its work.
Here we are at one of Jai’s many milestones that we must ride out until the next one emerges. A BabyCenter article discussed the upsurge of “The No” for two-year-old babies in a way that makes sense. “The technical name for your child’s fascination with the word ‘no’ is ‘toddler refusal’ – and the simple fact is that toddlers say ‘no’ because they can,” says the BabyCenter experts. “‘They’ve just found out that they have a will, and they want to exercise it,’ explains Susanne Denham, professor of developmental psychology and author of Emotional Development in Young Children.” (BabyCenter Medical Advisory Board, 2017)
Fundamentally, Jai wants us to recognize that she also has a list of emotions and desires, just like everyone who is bigger in the house, and her voice must be heard, too. I imagine that her parents’ frequent “no” employment, along with that of bossy big brother, can be frustrating to hear when she really, really wants to put those leaves in her hair or stick a USB cable in a wall outlet. I can’t say that her imitation is not justifiable.
So, when Jai starts to hurl her countless objections, I ask her why. I fight back with my own brand of demand requisition in the teaching hopes that she learns not only the vocabulary that properly identifies the “why” behind her discontent, but the confidence to stand by her opinions and to communicate them with tact and logic. She cannot yet speak clearly, but she will. I’m attempting to be a positive role model in that aspect. “Remember: The world is still a big, mysterious place to your toddler, and he feels pretty powerless in it,” wrote Karen Bannan for Parents Magazine. “Saying no is a normal, healthy way for him to feel as if he has some control.” (Bannan, 2008)
We give her all the control she seeks within restricted safety bounds. While there in that sacred space, she can spin around in her red fury, which soon dissipates into the air as quickly as it shows up. We then get our sweet, silly tot with aerodynamic hair back for a while…until the next storm threatens.
The BabyCenter Medical Advisory Board. “Resistance: What to do about the endless no’s.” BabyCenter, Aug. 2017, https://www.babycenter.com/0_resistance-what-to-do-about-the-endless-nos_12285.bc. Accessed Mar. 24, 2018.
Bannan, Karen J. “Why Toddlers Always Say ‘No!‘” Parents Magazine, Dec. 2008, https://www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/development/behavioral/why-toddlers-always-say-no/. Accessed Mar. 24, 2018.