How to say no to your toddler effectively

If the word “no” is not having any effect on your toddler as an attempt to discipline him, you may want to try an alternative method of restraint rather than just saying “no”.

Below are several alternatives to this overused command as well as help on how to say no to your toddler more effectively.

Be more positive

If “no” is having little response on your toddler, rephrase what you are trying to tell him not to do by focusing on what he can do, as young children generally tend to respond much better to positive attitudes. For example, if your toddler keeps throwing a ball at you or his siblings, respond by asking him to roll the ball on the floor to you.


Toddlers seem to have an irresistible urge to touch the forbidden and no matter how much you say “no”, he’ll always go back for more. Instead of saying “no”, quickly distract your youngster with a toy, by looking at a squirrel in a tree or a man walking past the window. Toddlers seem to be attracted to objects they are told they cannot have. Use the distraction technique to avoid this common scenario.

Ignore minor quips

As you toddler grows, he will present you with plenty of disciplinary opportunities. It is therefore advisable to stick to saying “no” when you really mean it and not for any minor upsets, such as splashing in puddles or getting slightly overzealous with his crayons. This way when you do say “no” he’ll know you mean it.

Present options

Instead of screaming “no” when your toddler demands chocolate before his lunch offer him alternative options such as a piece of apple or cheese. Not only will this take his mind off the chocolate by he will also make him feel like his in control, which can help to avoid toddler tantrums.

Say “no” sternly and firmly

So you have managed to whittle the number of “no’s” you say in a day to half or maybe less, so that you only say the word when you really mean it, now it is important to vocally pronounce the word to your child like you mean it. For example, if your toddler runs towards the road, instead of whimpering a half-hearted “no”, holler the word loudly, firmly and concisely.