Do We Say "No!" Too Much?

alternatives to the word no

Photo by Veela

When toddlers hit a certain age, there are days when it seems like "no" is the only word that comes out of your mouth. "No, you can't eat the cat's food," "No, that will break," "No, you can't draw on the wall."

A couple things happen at that point. You get bogged down in all that negativity, the word starts to lose some of its power, and eventually your child starts repeating it right back to you.

Then you'll never get rid of it!

One mom in the Old Fashioned & Anti Mainstream Moms is looking for alternatives to the word "no" for her 1 year old.

"I tend to over-talk (Bobo, we don't touch the table cloth because all the stuff will fall down and Bobo will get hurt"). So we usually go with the less wordy "no" and redirection, but I'm looking for other words to get the point across."

Fellow moms say these terms work equally well with their toddlers:


Don't touch

Stay away



Be gentle

Not for ______ (child's name)

Hands off

Please don't

That's owie



When disciplining toddlers, is it possible to overuse the word "no"?

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Total Votes: 68

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Do you stick with "no" or have you found alternative terms to indicate your toddler shouldn't be doing that? Is using "no" over and over damaging in any way?

development & growth, discipline, language, learning


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Sherr... SherriPie

I think it can definitely be DS is a great example.  He doesn't even listen when I say 'no' anymore.  I have started to tell him what I would like him to do instead.  When he's repeatedly touching something he shouldn't, I say "put your hands behind your back" and he does it immediately.  I often have to redirect him to other thigns to break the pattern.  Also, I have noticed that if he is repeatedly doing things he's not supposed to, it's usually because he wants my attention.  So I try to STOP what I'm doing, and spend about 5 or 10 minutes with him.  This usually curtails mischief-making for awhile.

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