The Emphatic No

These days Eli is all about saying, “No!” I got ready to go to work this morning and, as usual, told Eli, “I’m off to work! Come give me a hug and a kiss!”

“No!” he shouted, and ran off laughing.

I know, I know. This is normal; he’s being independent; this is a phase that will pass. But I am still seized with unreasoning anger. Why must he assert his independence by saying “no” all the time? Have we not done as parenting books and the Internet demand and given him choices? Sometimes even meaningful choices? “Do you want to stay with mom or go to the store with dad?” “Would you like to read a book or play with your cars?” “Paper or plastic?”

It doesn’t matter. These coping strategies are as snowflakes on the hot stove eye of his burgeoning independence. No, he doesn’t want to eat dinner. No, he doesn’t want to stop hitting the wall with that wooden spoon. Even when it’s something he has previously asked to do, like watching Sesame Street, sometimes he still says no.

I have a new coping strategy. Every time he says no, I now stick my fingers in my ears and shout “LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU.” I’ll let you know how well this works.

7 thoughts on “The Emphatic No

  1. Actually, that one might work. Another for when he gets older, which worked on me when I got to the “you hate me, don’t you?” stage: my mom would burst out laughing. Not agree or disagree, just laugh uproariously, as if it were the funniest thing she’d heard in forever.

    Now I know how much of that laughter was faked, but back then I gradually learned that it was a way to defuse arguments. Now every once in a while if we disagree on something, I’ll quirk an eyebrow at her, and go, “you hate me, don’t you?” And now the laughter’s real.

  2. unreasoning anger: I am getting to that already. I have more to look forward to?

  3. These days Eli is all about saying, “No!” I got ready to go to work this morning and, as usual, told Eli, “I’m off to work! Come give me a hug and a kiss!”

    “No!” he shouted, and ran off laughing.

    That is one Eli Moment where I’m glad that I was not a fly on the wall. Maaaaaaaaaaan.

  4. Has Eli already been in the ‘Why?’ stage? My kids didn’t stay in the ‘No’ stage for very long… but they’re still in the ‘Why?’ stage even now, to some degree.

  5. We don’t hear “Why?” yet but I’m holding my breath for when it will start. I actually would rather hear “Why?” than the conversation halting “No!”

    In Eli’s defense, he does mostly use it correctly and in reasonable ways and we do give him lots of options so that there are fewer things to actually say no to. But even still, by 3 or 4 in the afternoon, I’ve heard the all the “no’s” I care to.

    Laughter is a good idea. I’ll have to remember that one!

  6. I’ve got a 2 1/2 year old who also screams no when asked for a hug and kiss because daddy is leaving for work. He thinks if he doesn’t give him a kiss he won’t leave. He seems to be moving out of no and into “what’s that”. Almost as annoying.

  7. A German grandmother recently said in conversation about children talking that her grandchild’s first word was not for mother or father, but “nein!” When her daughter reported the new word as her daughter’s first, the grandmother related that her response to her daughter was “Which is as it should be!”

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