I have a new least favorite word. You may be thinking that you have probably never given thought to your least, or even most favorite word, however I work with elementary students. My job has allowed me to be able to spend time to think of my least and most favorite in a variety of categories, often needing my second and third most favorite as well. Regardless, my new least favorite word is: nope.
I have a 20 month old son, Lane, and since the birth of our second child (7 weeks ago!) Lane has a new favorite word – it also happens to be my least favorite. I have heard the word “nope” or a variation of it more times than I can count. Lane historically has been a very easy going, fun loving, agreeable child – until recently. I am still on maternity leave, and feeling quite well, so we have been able to explore our city more, however whenever I attempt some fun outing I am met with a very clear “nope”. What makes it even more difficult is how unbelievably cute he is when he says it. He doesn’t simply say “nope”, no, he drags it out “nnnooooope”. Regardless of my response to his declaration, I then get a “mama, nope”. Just to make sure I fully heard him.
I have heard “nope” when I have offered things like going to the zoo (what kid doesn’t want to go to the zoo!?), eating his favorite snack, in his sleep, or even being allowed to do something he just asked to do. All. The. Time. At first, it was cute, now he is beginning to protest instead of just saying no, which makes it increasingly less cute every time I hear it, hence my new least favorite word.
Thankfully, I know I am not the only one. “This is a phase” I have heard, “He is learning to assert his independence” is another thing I have heard. All well and good, but I need to function with my day. Since I firmly believe it takes a village to raise a child, here are some things that I have found to work:
1. Give choices. Give choices whenever possible. Something as simple as picking out what shirt to wear keeps my son happy, and the n-word out of sight.
2. Do not argue. Instead of trying to convince my son that he wants whatever I am offering, or that he wants to do what I want him to do, I simply reply with an “okay” or I ignore it altogether. Drawing attention will only increase his desire to say it more.
3. Distract. Getting into his car seat has become a new challenge – the back seat is now supplied with books, blankets, snacks, etc. Anything I can give him to have him sit long enough for me to buckle him in and get going. This is incredibly difficult for me, especially in moments when I have some place I need to be and he is choosing to assert his independence, but being a little silly will go a long way.
4. Prompt what you do want. Lane says no as a gut response at this point. In situations I know he wants to do it, I choose to not listen to his no, and instead say “yes”. He repeats and he gets to do what he wanted.
5. Celebrate when he says yes. Giving attention for what you do want, instead of what you don’t want. If he agrees to something, I make it a point to tell him how much I like that he agreed with me, or did what I asked. I have not seen much of an increase in his agreeable responses, but I still make it a point.
Now, I know I’m not the only one. What has worked for you? What hasn’t worked?