The NO Factor (Discipline for Toddlers)


These days, the words “Mommy said NO” seem to involuntarily fly out of my mouth faster than the speed of lightening. When there’s a toddler around, the word “no” can mean one of four things…

  1. No, you’re going to hurt yourself (if you keep banging your head against the door.)
  2. No, you’re going to hurt mommy (if you keep poking me in the eye with your bubble wand.)
  3. No, you’re going to break something (if you keep running around in circles until you’re dizzy and then crash into the furniture.)
  4. No, we can’t continue to do this all day (because mommy’s tired, and she needs a Margarita.)

I’ll admit, I’m not a fan of the word “no.” In fact, I’d rather be one of those parents who never says it at all. After all, I can still vividly remember those fun days of jumping on the couch when my mother or grandmother was not in the room to scold me. I loved jumping on the couch, and it was even more fun when I could take flying leaps from one couch to the other. Of course, I don’t let my little boy do this even though I see the glimmer of excitement in his eyes when he begins. “No Lewie, sit on your butt….Lewie, I said NO. Now sit on your butt! Lewie, Mommy said NO!”

Lil’ Lewie seems to get into the most trouble when we’re at home, and he’s bored. While I’m stuffing dirty laundry into the washing machine, the eyes in back of my head will notice that he’s reaching for the flat screen TV, trying to stick his nose in the electrical outlet, or attempting to flush the toilet for the forty-fourth time. It’s too easy for him to get into trouble, and the “no’s” project out of my mouth as quickly and routinely as a baseball pitching machine tosses its balls into the air.

After a full day of “Mommy said NO,” Daddy comes home from work only to be the Mr. Yes guy. I mean my husband will still say NO, but if he starts playing with Lil’ Lewie, the boredom dies down and before we know it, Lil’ Lewie is now having way too much fun with Daddy to ever consider getting into mischief. Thus, the paradox of parenthood begins.

So, as much as it makes me the bad guy to say NO all day long, I know it’ll be worth it some day. I don’t expect that Lil’ Lewie will ever give me a Mother’s Day card that reads, “Thanks for telling me NO all these years,” but maybe it’ll say something like “Thanks for being a great Mom,” and I’ll know that part of the package of being a great mom is saying that ugly two letter word.

Does anyone else feel like they’ve become a NO person? There’s a great article about the alternatives to saying NO called Discipline for Toddlers.


  1. Hi Annette! I once tried an experiment and didn't say NO for an entire day. Because sometimes "no" is just easier to say. And Daddy is definitely the "yes" man. The kids told me they like him better because he lets them watch tv and eat candy. Ack!

  2. That's a great experiment! Did not saying no the whole day work? Was it hard? I have to try it sometime... Yes, it sounds like we have something in common--our husbands must have gone to the same parenting class (lol).


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