The “no” period in children: how to react?

  • Positive Education

The “no  period  ”, also called the “ opposition phase  ” is a completely normal period, which all children go through and which is essential for their development.

Sometimes very trying when you are parents, this period can be a source of a lot of worry. If you feel the need, don't hesitate to talk about it and ask for advice from those around you.

At what age does the opposition phase appear?

The period of no generally takes place between the 18 months and the 2 years of the child. It is a period during which your little one is gaining autonomy from you, and where he will want to assert his own choices.

The opposition phase , although difficult for parents, is also a positive sign of your child's development. It shows that your child is defining himself as a unique and full individual! This emerging autonomy is also linked to the fact that at this age your child will further develop his language as well as his motor skills.Indeed, this period generally coincides with the moment when he is most comfortable with walking and when he starts talking, using new words. Thanks to these new acquisitions, he is able to discover his environment and will want to experience new things. This is why he may find himself confronted with the “no” of his parents, who are worried about his safety or who begin to establish rules and transmit social codes to him. In response, he himself will experience the "no" and begin to oppose his parents.

During this period, the child's “no” tends to crystallize around certain moments. Depending on the children, this can be clothing, bathing, eating, going to bed, etc.

During this period, the child may also want to say no systematically, sometimes even without thinking it. It starts with a "no" in the head, then the verbalization of the word. He simply wants to assert his power of opposition .

The period of no: how to welcome it as a parent?

We often hear "  my child is adorable with others, but with me he always says no!" ". Indeed, the period of no in the toddler, mainly takes place at home with his parents. In fact, your child reacts this way to you because he feels emotionally secure . He knows, thanks to all the love you have given him since birth, that even if he says "no" to you it will not hurt the quality of your relationship. With other adults, your child is not as comfortable, so he may be less daring to assert himself and he will be more attentive to the rules.

This phase of opposition can be difficult for parents, who see their baby emancipate from their opinion as he had never done before. The difficulty is all the greater since the parents must also agree among themselves on what is allowed and what is not. As a parent, your role during this period is to support your child in his assertiveness.

To make this period the easiest for everyone, we are sharing some tips with you:

  • Use positive formulations because the child's brain, like that of the adult, has difficulty retaining negation. (For example, if you are told, “  don't think of a blue car  ”… you will think about it! Child and adult brains find it difficult to materialize negation.)
  • Ask open-ended questions that do not lead to yes-no-no answers.
  • Offer a choice: during this period your child will also start to try to "negotiate". We must not close the door to these small negotiations, you can even bypass this phase of no by offering him certain choices which will make him an actor in the decision. However, be careful, it is better to offer only two options to your little one. Beyond that, your child would feel lost in front of so many choices to which he is not used and could decide to say no to everything.

Welcoming the emotions that accompany the opposition phase

When the child begins to oppose the will of his parents, the parent-child relationship hardens and can generate what is called "  big anger  ". In fact it is a reaction of frustration of the child who does not understand that his parents do not comply with his request, which was always the case before because it concerned his physiological needs (eating, being clean, have hugs…). During strong anger, toddlers may have to roll on the ground, hit, bite ...

To prevent his frustrating situations from becoming too regular and to help your child get past this period of no , it is important to talk to him once the big anger has passed. Cold, you can put words on what your child felt (that he is not yet able to understand himself) and explain to him why you said no to him so that he understands it and that you can maintain this prohibition.

Here are some tips to put in place at home:

  • Provide symbolic games such as dinette, disguises, dolls… During this period your child becomes independent and wants to do whatever you do. Thanks to these games, he will be able to replay everyday scenes by imitating you while developing his imaginative potential. Thus he will be able to exercise his power to act and better understand the rules that you establish ( the child learns by imitation ). Once these rules are acquired he can even pass them on to other children (we often see this from 2 and a half years old).
  • Suggest that your child participate in daily life by helping you set the table, for example. Giving small responsibilities to your child will allow him to become an actor in his daily life .

The opposition phase: what to remember

The child's opposition period can be difficult for parents. You should not hesitate to discuss it with others, to pass the baton on to a third party. This can be the grandparents, but also the early childhood professionals who take care of your little one and who can advise you.

Remember that if your child enters this period of no especially with his parents, it is because he feels confident, in a safe environment . Finally, even if he is asserting himself, he remains very small and needs you to support him in the development of his individuality . During the opposition phase, your child is on the path to independence .

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