Saying Yes to Toddlers

I raised 3 children, so I learned early that I had to conserve my energy if I was going to get through to my children. I think all parents have experienced having to say "no" to this and "no" to that and you kind of get into a rut and it can be very frustrating to both parents and their children. I was looking for a creative approach, something that would help me not to over-react when things happen.

One of the things that I found was that sometimes there are things that children can't do, but then there are things that they can do. Steer them to the positive things by saying you can't do that...but you can do this.

Here's an example: We've all been through the check-out line at the grocery store and my daughter very quickly realized that the candy and the gum was there and she would grab the gum and say "can I have this?" Well, instead of just saying "no", I would tell her she could have it, but that this was something that was very good to smell. So for probably 2 years of her young life, we would pick up gum packages and smell them and see which smelled the best.

I would tell my children they couldn't run, but they could hop; they couldn't yell, but they could whisper. It was sort of like taking a detour and you're telling them at very young ages what is appropriate. It is kind of an art of distraction, but the one caveat that I would offer is that distraction is a powerful tool, but sometimes you really do have to say "no", especially when their safety is involved. However, if they have an alternative, they'll pretty much go that way. That's the key.