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How to Tell Your Baby "No"

Before your baby can even walk, they can understand the word "no." Getting them to listen is the tricky part!


  • Step 1: After your child turns 1, begin providing brief explanations for why you're saying no. Follow up with a suggestion of what they can do.
  • Step 2: Teach them that "no" means "no" by sticking to consequences you've set for their actions. Giving in to a screaming toddler every once in a while is understandable, but you'll undermine your disciplinary efforts if you do so too often.
  • FACT: The average toddler hears the word "no" 400 times a day, according to parenting experts.
  • TIP: Save your most emphatic "no!"s for warning them off real danger.
  • Step 3: Mix up "no" with other words that mean the same thing, like "stop," or "not for you." And develop "no" body language, like a facial expression or tone of voice that lets them know you mean business.
  • Step 4: Ignore bad behavior that appears designed to get your attention, as long as it's not dangerous. Taking away their audience often takes away their desire to continue, whereas saying "no" may just egg them on.
  • Step 5: Refrain from making "no" your mantra; your tot will begin to tune it out, making it less effective. Plus, studies indicate that children who hear "no" too much have poorer language skills than children who get more positive feedback.
  • Step 6: Don't bother saying "no" to a baby under nine months old; they won't understand you. Instead, distract them; babies have short attention spans.

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