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BLOS unravels: the no-phase in toddlers

icoon-kalender-tekengebied-2.png 25 August 2022
icoon-klokje 2 minutes


Do you want to go grocery shopping? Are you going to take another bite of your sandwich? Do you want to play with the blocks later on? Does your toddler always reply 'no' to every question you ask? If so, the no-phase has begun. It happens overnight and we can safely say that it probably won't stop for a while. In this issue of 'BLOS unravels' you can read more about the no-phase and how to deal with it. 


The no-phase is part of toddler puberty. This period is between the ages of 1 and 4 when toddlers regularly fight with their parents. In this phase, your child may also throw tantrums. The no-phase usually begins around 1.5 to 2 years old. This phase can last for two months, but could possibly last until the end of toddler puberty.

Why 'no'?

During the toddler puberty period, your child develops rapidly. They discover their own 'I' and develop their own opinions. By saying 'no' your toddler tries to make it clear that he or she is a person with a will of his or her own and can influence what happens around him or her. As a parent, it can be quite a challenge when your child suddenly says 'no' to everything, but it is good that your child is doing this. They are learning to set their own boundaries, stand up for themselves and to form their own opinions. It also shows that your child feels safe with you.

Tips for getting through the no-phase

The no-phase can be a challenging time for a parent. These tips will help you reduce the struggle during toddler puberty.

Give your child options

Giving your toddler options gives him or her the feeling that it has a say in important matters and makes him or her less likely to say 'no'. If you want your child to eat fruit, for example, you can say 'Do you want a banana or an apple?' instead of 'Do you want a banana?'. This can also be used for less important things, such as getting dressed. You could say: 'Are you going to put your trousers on or your jumper on first?' This gives your child the feeling that he is in control and will do something quicker than if you just ask him to get dressed.

Don't give 'no' a chance

Don't ask your child questions that he can say yes or no to if that is not wanted. For example, say 'We are going outside' instead of 'Shall we go outside?'.

Just this once...

It can be very nice when something that would normally be denied is allowed for a change. For example: 'Shall we jump on the sofa really hard for once?'. Afterwards, we can use it again to sit on. By permitting something for once, and explaining that it is just this once, you create a positive moment with your child.

Allow room for independence

Allow your child to do things on its own, even if it is quicker when you do it yourself. Whenever you ask if you can help, your child will immediately shout 'no'! Let him or her try things out for him or herself and state what you see: 'I see that you want to make your own sandwich'. Allow your child to find a solution on his or her own and support him or her in what he or she is able to do. This is how you avoid conflict.

Sometimes it is just the way it is

You don't always have to involve your child in everything. In some cases, things are just the way they are and there is no option, such as putting on water wings in the swimming pool. Does your toddler protest? Then you should say that this is the way it is and you are not going to argue about it.

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