My 6-year-old got in trouble last week because he was yelling, “No!” at our 15-month-old. We try really hard not to tell our kids “no” before they are two years old and have a decent vocabulary. Instead, we say, “No, thank you!” and it’s been a great choice for our family.
When my husband and I were pregnant with our first son (who is now 8) we made a commitment that we wouldn’t tell our kids “no” when they were little and four kids later, we’ve stayed true to that plan. Many of our friends had kids before we did and we learned so many valuable tips from watching them parent. Jaimie and Nathan always said “No, thank you” to their little guy and we decided we wanted to do the same. It sounded so much better than all the yelled “noes” we heard from so many other parents.
No consistently makes the list of top first words for babies in the United States. The article Here’s Why Your Kid’s First Word Will Probably be ‘Mama,’ ‘Dada,” Or ‘No’ explains that one of the first “abstract concepts” little ones comprehend is “negation” or not to do something. Since parents are supposed to spend a significant time keeping kids from doing stuff, it makes sense this is one of the top concepts kids understand and then, also, why it is a popular first word.
But who wants their kid’s first word to be “no?”
Our oldest boy’s first word was butterfly. I’m not kidding, I really have no idea how this happened except three of his favorite books had butterflies. Of course, we figured he was brilliant (as any new parent knows their child to be). To bring things back to reality, our third son’s first word was booty, so maybe “no” wouldn’t have been a bad choice after all.
To be honest, we decided not to tell our kids “no” because we didn’t want to hear them saying it all the time, especially when they were too little for us to really do anything to correct them. So, we use “no, thank you.”
One great side benefit from doing this is that it seems to keep our own frustration a bit in check. It’s hard to yell or get too mad when you’re saying thank you. It helps remind us that we are talking to a little one who is learning how to function in our family and survive in this big and crazy world, rather than someone that needs to be scolded.
We correct our little ones often, saying “no, thank you” to our toddler when he yells in the middle of the night just so we can “hang out” or when he spits out food just because. We say “no, thank you” when he tries to reach the remote or play in a dog’s water dish. Now that he gets it, he sometimes whines in frustration that we are telling him not to do something, but he doesn’t say no to us. We figure the TH in thank you that we’ve added to the no is just too much work.
What do you think? Are we crazy or smart or somewhere in between?