According to the experts, children between the ages of 12 and 24 months experience great leaps in their vocabularies and talking ability. My daughter is living proof. At 17 months she is collecting words like crazy.
Mama. Dada. Go. Baby. See. Thanks. Sit—which actually sounds like a curse word if she is drooling a lot. I celebrated each new addition, up until the day I tried to feed her broccoli and got a surprise. She is not a vegetable fan to begin with. On that fateful afternoon, she turned her head from the spoon and shouted “No!”
I went from shocked to impressed to annoyed. No continues to be one of her favorite words. No. I don’t want to eat that. No. I want to play with the other toy. No. I want to keep pressing the buttons on the phone.
Then it hit me. No might not be such a bad thing. For one, there is no more question as to whether or not she understands me when I tell her no. If she can dish it, she can take it.
Also, if my daughter tells me no, she can certainly use it on other people. Like another kid who wants to take her toy; or a stranger at the store who comes too close. That “no” may save her from a scrambled egg that doesn’t pass her smell test.
Kidpower, a nonprofit that teaches children to use their power to stay safe, encourages kids to say “no” to unwanted or inappropriate behavior using polite clear words, eye contact, and assertive body language. Kidpower also encourages parents to avoid forcing their child to show affection to others, among other strategies to keep children safe. Think well-meaning grandparent or friendly neighbor.
I’m not saying I want push back on every vegetable or naptime. What I do hope is that my daughter’s love affair with “no” is her start to becoming a confident, capable person.
What words are your kids using these days? What’s annoying? What makes you proud?