Ages One to Three

Why shouldn’t I say “NO” to my 12-month-old?

There are two main reasons for not speaking negatively to 1-year-olds. First, if a child is doing several things at the same time (asking to be held, crying, wanting the remote, feeling hungry) and I say, “No,” to him, exactly what am I responding to? What does the “no” mean?


Secondly, children that age can’t think in the negative. They can only think in the positive. So, the word “no” holds no meaning for them.

Here’s what I do with my 12-month-old under similar circumstances. He goes for the remote control and I say, “Unh-unh. Not for Aidan,” and

I do a hand sign of waving my hand back and forth. Now he will stop and do the hand sign, too. Most of the time he will move on to something else, but sometimes he continues trying to touch the remote.

Then I pick him up and move him, or take away the object of desire and put it out of reach. I might put the phone on the counter or the remote behind my back. Then I distract him with something that is okay for him (a toy, or nursing if it’s bedtime/naptime, or just my cuddles and tickles, or blowing on the belly). Anything to change the mood.

If he gets upset and starts to cry, I comfort him by holding him and saying, “You are so upset Mommy won’t give it to you. It is not for Aidan.”

“Attachment” is another way for saying “relationship”.

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