No means No! Or Does It?

Remember that -er, “theoretical” discussion we had a while back on discipline?  The one where the expert said the key is redirection and that saying “No” is not the answer.

So what do you do when your toddler’s FAVORITE games are things that they shouldn’t be doing? Things like opening the garbage can and sticking hands inside, lifting up toilet seat and immersing hands in water, hitting mommy in the face while nursing, changing the channels on the TV (not the cable channel, the actual TV channel so there is only white snow) and even dangerous things like trying to open the stove while something is in the oven – or Jasper’s newest favorite thing – standing on toys like the seat of his car/walker?

If there is anything even SLIGHTLY on the iffy side in terms of safety, he’s ALL over it. Like how he likes to balance on the little “step” of his baby jail. Not really dangerous, but he does slip and fall on the hard wood floor several times a day from hanging out there. I only really include it here because it’s funny how he does it and watches me.. like he’s taunting me to dare to tell him to get down, like he knows maybe he shouldn’t.





C'mon mom, what's the big deal?

(*pictures have been edited from when originally posted at the request of the background subject*)

I’ve TRIED redirection, but the act of say herding him away from the trashcan makes him think it’s some sort of fun sport – I am the trashcan goalie and he’s headed in for the hat trick.

And sadly I have to say the TV issue has deteriorated into me saying “NO” slightly loudly and firmly which has only resulted in him now running towards the TV shouting “NO, NO, NO!” and THEN changing the channel.

If this is one, I am absolutely terrified of the terrible twos!

It’s funny because I feel like his “challenging” toddler behavior has increased ten fold from when we last discussed it. His interest in mischief seems to increase exponentially with each passing day.. and I seem to lack the tools to know how to instill and understanding of what NOT to do in both benign and dangerous situations.

How do you handle household dangers and ickies?  Do you feel like redirection works or only increases interest in the object?

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Barbara says:

@Jeff – Ariana has never protrayed you as anything but her husband…and never humiliated you that I , as a reader, has seen. Her blog is family friendly and informative and I find your comments more disgusting than whatever picture may or may not have been shown of you in this blog.

Shane says:

@Jeff I didn’t see you in the pics as a bad thing at all. Honestly, it made me think about the exhaustive role we play as parents and the unending source of energy our kids have.

Jeff says:

Just take my fucking picture off

ariana says:

I didn’t post them to embarrass you, did you see how cute our son is in these pictures? It’s about Jasper – I actually didn’t even notice until others pointed it out!

Jeff says:

Attention blog readers. If you want to make sure your already failing marriage ends even more abruptly, post embarassing pictures of your spouse for all to see.

Jeff says:

Really, you had to post the pictures of me on the couch?

Jill says:

I’ve been reading your posts for a while now – Jasper is one day older than my grandson Nico. Nico and his big brother Ryan (3 years old) are temporarily living with us right now, and I tell you, being a mom at 50-something is SO very different than being one at 20- or 30-something! Nico’s thing right now is climbing up on a chair so he can pull the chain on a table lamp and/or grab the portable phone and start pushing the buttons. I always try to redirect him but it doesn’t work AT ALL. A minute later he’ll be up there again, or it might take two minutes if I carry him into another room. He’s got a one track mind, that boy! And it doesn’t help at all that Ryan thinks the whole process is funny.

belston says:

Don’t know if I can really comment since I don’t have kids, but from the early childhood development class I am taking for my masters program, it seems to me like the biggest things beyond making sure your kid is safe are to a) avoid shaming your kid when they disobey, b) avoid frustrating their natural self-stimulating curiosity because it’s an important part of their development (and every kid is different in that respect – some need their parents to jump in and keep them engaged while others engage with their world pretty easily on their own), and c) redirect, redirect, redirect as much as possible. I’m sure there’s more to it, and it’s not exactly practical advice, but given those 3 things it sounds to me like you’re doing a great job.

Beth says:

Okay, so I don’t have kids, but am I allowed in the discussion??

It sounds like he needs to be disciplined when he disobeys. Just a smack on the hand and a firm “NO” should get his attention. Then you can redirect him to something else. If he disobeys again, another “NO” and a smack on the hand. It’s ok if he cries. He will learn to obey you — and that will be especially important when you’re telling him no because he’s endangering himself or someone else!

I do agree with other people that you shouldn’t say no unless you really mean it. But if you do say no and then never follow up with any kind of consequences, it’s no wonder he keeps doing the same things. :) He’s too young to listen to reason; he just needs to obey you at this point. For example, you don’t need to say “Don’t jump off the step because you might hurt yourself.” Just say, “Jasper, do not get on the step.” Then take him off it. If he gets back on, swat his hand and say “NO.” As he gets older you can explain yourself more and more. But I do think it’s important that, at a young age, he is willing to obey you. It will set a good stage for the many fun years of parenting ahead of you! :)

All that said, good luck! He’s so precious. The pictures are adorable!

Chrissy says:

Jeff sleeping is cracking me up. I dont have kids but as always, Jasper is gorgeous and your pics a beautiful!

Shane says:

got nothing for you! but a caption for that photo sequence:
“I took Daddy down, he’s down on the couch. Now I’m coming after you! You game, momma?”

Sara B. says:

Ariana – is that man on the couch alive in the background;)?

We’re lucky in that “no” is very effective in our house. In fact, we have to be careful not to say it too sternly, as it can elicit a 5 minute twisting of every tiny muscle in our boy’s face before he bursts into tears.

Right now we’re working on teaching him to put things in our hands (as opposed to throwing them at us). I have bruises all over me from him hurling books at me. He remembers “in hands” right after I tell him, but 10 minutes later, he’s throwing things again.

We have the same baby gate system as you but we have it configured so 3/4 of the living room is blocked off (so the ends aren’t connected. He’s learned how to move one end to sneak out and he really is soooo sneaky about it. He tries to pretend like he’s leaning on it and then he very quickly tries to get out. If knows I see him, he goes even quicker.

I can’t imagine what we’re in for in another few months…

Judy N says:

Oh…and as far as the No thing…I try to reserve the actual word NO for the ULTIMATE no things…if there are other things I don’t want him to do, I try to say, “Don’t do that, or DO NOT touch that” instead. That way, the word “NO” still holds the meaning of absolutely NOT…sometimes, you find yourself just shouting No all day, and I thinkt hat can take away from the finality of the meaning of No.

Alicia Parr says:

My son is about Jasper’s age and doing many similar things. I find that the word NO increases interest in something exponentially and that redirection is my only hope. Sometimes successful redirection takes several tries, complete removal from view of the tempting object and weathering a mini tantrum until he’s newly engaged. Also, removing certain things from reachable distance where possible. For example, we no longer keep our toilet paper on toilet paper dispensers and my trashcan in the downstairs bathroom/laundry area now resides on a high shelf over the washing machine. That said, there are certain things that are non-negotiably NO. No climbing out of the bathtub, no touching the igniter button on the grill, no touching hot pots and pans while cooking, etc. That’s just a firm no and immediate redirection to something else “interesting.” I think (eventual) success with the No-Off-Limits stuff is partly due to allowing him to learn the hard way on other things.

ariana says:

I totally forgot about the picking up our laptops and dropping them – or the COMPLETE throw down tantrum when daddy says no (clearly more frightening than when I do).

@Peytie’s Nanny, we keep the bathroom doors shut too…theoretically. The other day I was in the other room under the impression that it was closed and once I realized he was waaaaay too quiet it was too late and one arm was already in the toilet! ICK!

@Kerri, I’m so glad to hear that this age is universally challenging. Makes me feel a teeny bit better!

@Maria I’m LOL at the image of Jonah dragging his play yard around!

@Joelle, I’ll definitely keep it in mind – not out of the question at all (eventually!)

@Ava, we have plexiglass over the shelf where the cable box, VCR and DVD are housed. We thought we were OH SO smart – until he started in with the (unprotected) buttons on the actual TV! Little stinker!

@Chantal, thanks for the tip about the oven, will definitely keep it in mind!

@Sarah, great advice. I need to let him “help” more often ;)

@Kimberly – if food flinging were an Olympic sport, I’d be mother to the gold medalist. Seriously!

@Trying, I know, isn’t that hysterical? He was nursing an all day hangover!

morgan says:

First off I love that Jeff is totally zonked out in the background!

As for the discipline, I dont have any kids, but I do remember my mom using the count to 3 with my little sister. I dont know what she thought was going to happen after three but it always made her stop doing whatever she was doing.

kari says:

My favorite thing about these pics – is that Jeff is napping on the couch while all of this is going on :) very cute!

ok – now to your question…our system is basically to try to keep all of those things out of his reach – WHICH of course is never going to happen 100% (beleive me, I would MOVE the fireplace if I could, and replace the hard wood floors with like a foam pad covered in sheepskin – or maybe just let him grow up in a bubble – i am kidding of course!) I am convinced that children have selective listening, and that “NO” is one word that they choose not to hear most of the time.
and yeah, the redirection is hit and miss… this morning as i was unloading the diswasher Liam decided that it was AWESOME to hang from the top shelf… nice.

good luck ari – the pics are fab… i am just catching up, still need to check out the pumpkin patch!

Marcia says:

Those pictures are too cute! This sounds alot like what we are experiencing lately too and it does seem to be getting worse, it’s never complete without the throwing-yourself-on-the-ground-tantrum. We just keep redirecting and a firm NO for most things. She loves to turn the printer off and just recently discovered the button to print paper, the worst was when she would approach the cable cord and look right at us with a big smile and pull as hard as she could. So, we just don’t allow her access to these areas for now and the bathroom has always been off-limits despite the fact that she is trying to dig a hole under the door to get to me!

Keri says:

We are having the same issues and I have been wondering the same thing: what to do? Hadley loves to play in our dog’s food and water bowls, loves to push buttons on the dvd player and laptop, and consistently tries to pull things out of the garbage can. Fun, fun:-)

Sarah says:

We put items that he is just not allowed to touch out of his reach. Bathroom doors and toilet lids are closed. The kitchen is gated off if the stove, oven or dishwasher are on or we are working with knives. The TV remote is put out of his reach if he is pushing all the buttons on it. I don’t want him to spend his day frustrated any more than I do so I work to minimize the things that frustrate us by putting them up and away. If something is left out it is fair game. And I work hard to let him explore things that aren’t dangerous — the handheld vacum, the swiffer, the mop, he helps load the washing machine, etc. It doesn’t hurt him or us or the house and it satisfies his curiosity. Our house looks awful, but our days are simpler.

Kimberly says:

Seriously… I totally can relate to this! James loves to get into the dog’s food, both the storage bin when I forget and leave the closet door open a crack, and her dish. He thinks it really funny to put her kibble in his mouth… yuck. He loves to turn the tv on / off, push any buttons he can possibly reach, and get into my pantry. He’s started flingi g food off his tray for sport… thinks it’s hilarious. He also smacks me occasionally when he nurses (which for us ends the nursing session after I’ve redirected him once or twice… but I know you’re much more concerned about getting milk in to Jasper). When we tell him no, he laughs. It’s just this age… struggling for independence… we just need to stay consistent, even though redirecting is a full-time job. Eventually they’ll get it. :)

Jasper IS an adorable, defiant little monkey, isn’t he? Love the pics!

tryingin2007 says:

redirection is a joke in our home. dd LOVES to turn off mama’s computer while she works (yes, she can find that teeny tiny little button) and play in the dog’s bowls — very dangerous. nothing seems to work. “NO” is meaningless and the more frustrated I get the funny it seems to dd. ugh!

your husband on the couch in the background is hilarious! he could easily be b!

jbhat says:

That little guy keeps you busy!

I think I will second the others and say that you are approaching it well. No for the big stuff and redirection for the other stuff. Also, if he knows he’s getting to you, maybe try faking that you are ignoring him…unless it gets to be a safety issue. What a little tester he is!

Good luck! And those pictures are priceless, by the way.

Joelle says:

So, first – adorable photos! I wish, wish, wish we lived closer to you. If you’re ever out west – let me know, I’ll set up a session :)

I don’t have any suggestions, just wanted to say Thank You for writing about what Jasper is doing. It helps to know that my daughter isn’t the only little one trying to get into the garbage (what is so appealing?) or the toilet!

Ava says:

I love those photos.

G is a tester of limits right now too. We do say “No!” on parts that are dangerous, although he’s taken to getting to a “bad” item, looking at me, waiting to hear me say No, and then STILL get at it.

Right now, for us, it’s still a lot of redirection, saying “No!”, staying firm, and if he doesn’t oblige, physically removing him from the object he shouldn’t be playing with. I’m sure this isn’t the “correct” thing to do right now, but it’s the only thing that’s working.

I do have some items simply gated off. We close the doors to the kitchen, and I have a piece of plexi-glass (classy, right?) blocking off the section of the standing light in our living room so he doesn’t topple it over. I know it won’t last forever, but it’s working for right now.

Meanwhile, I’m waiting on a book to be delivered “1 2 3 Magic” by Thomas W. Phelan. Our pediatrician recommended it so I figured I should at least skim through it. I’ll let you know how it goes.

chantal says:

Annora isn’t walking yet, so I’m not in quite the same situation. I have tried redirection but if it’s something serious I’ll say NO and since I use it infrequently, she knows I mean business. I actually don’t think there’s anything wrong with using the word no when you have to, as long as it’s not for everything.

When I was little, my mom would turn the light on in the oven whenever she was cooking or baking. For years and years my brother and I knew that if the light inside the oven was on, it meant we were not allowed in the kitchen or anywhere near the stove because it was dangerous. I’m going to use that trick for Annora, because it really worked for my mom. I don’t know how useful it’ll be for an active 1 year old, but if you start doing it now it’ll probably help for when he’s 2.

Kerri says:

I have 3 boys ages 3, 2, & 8 months. I’ve found the 11-19 month age to be the toughest, waaaaay harder than 2! So you’re in the thick of it now! I do use a firm loud “No” for anything dangerous (i.e. climbing a non-sturdy surface, going near wires/plugs) but redirection for annoying behaviors like playing with the TV remote (although I also put the remote in a place they can’t reach!). It takes time but he will eventually get it. Until then, happy toddler chasing! :)

Maria says:

Redirection, unfortunately, does not work for us. There are a few things Jonah does, over and over again, like bang on the stove, bang on the fireplace screen, etc. As many times as we say “NO!” and pull him away and try to distract him, day after day he does the same thing. I’m hoping he gets bored with it?? In addition, for the last two months or so he’s been pushing his enclosed play area around the house..he literally pushes on the walls and drags the thing all around!

Peytie's Nanny says:

I totally feel ya on this one, it can get very frustrating at times to keep on the kiddos about the same issues over and over. And because I am not in your shoes I will just share some of what I do with Peyt that works.

Oven: Any time she looks at it and gets any where near it I or her parents say in a firm voice “HOT do not touch” and we move her away. We have done this from the very start and now she will point and say “hot” then walk away on her own.

Cat food: Once again we started this as soon as she was crawling. In a firm voice “leave it, that’s the cat’s” now she doesn’t even pay attention to it. And the “leave it” has become a life saver because I can use it for mulitple items now and she gets it, like when we pull a trash bag out before it’s totally full it sits on the kitchen floor for the rest of the day and “leave it” has worked for that as well.

Toilet: we keep the bathroom doors closed.

Peyt climbs on the couch and likes to throw herself…I’ve worked with her on “couches are for bottoms” or “we sit on the couch” and now it’s not such an issue…also teaching her how to climb down on her own helped.

One word of advice, don’t sweat the small stuff, remember he’s little and closer to the ground than we are, so if he is standing on a toy and falls he really wont get hurt as bad you think and it may just teach him to be more careful! Now if he’s climbing on tables and diving off (which I had a kiddo do!!!) then its time for more drastic measures!

OH and I had a friend tell me that when her kiddo wouldn’t stop changing the channels she unplugged the TV. It’s not fun to push the bottons when nothing happens ;-)