Yes, I defend my child’s right to say ‘no’

If  I only had one word, if I was laid up in bed or something, couldn’t talk, couldn’t sign and for some reason my brain could only put together one word and if I could chose that word, now, I would chose the word ‘No’. It is a very powerful word. If I were (God forbid) unable to communicate or move I am expecting other people would be making a lot of choices for me. They would probably be doing things unto me, over me, around me… making decisions that I wouldn’t make for myself. The word ‘no’ might be the only word I need. Whenever they are doing things that I can live with, things that are loving and aligned with who I am and what I want, I could comfortably continue saying nothing and letting them do what they do. But if a line were crossed into something I really didn’t want to have done to me, then I could use my word to confidently assert that !

If I had just one other expression, I would chose ‘Thank you’ so I could express gratitude for all the work and care these grace-filled helpers were putting into maintaining my wellbeing.

Now I wonder if being a toddler is not a little like this. So much happening to them, decisions being made for them, they are physically picked up and moved and taken (sometimes expressly against their will) to places they don’t want to go before they were ready to leave. No wonder one of their first words is ‘NO’!! No wonder it is my child and so many children’s favourite word. That word is power.

I have said already my kid is not even 18 months old yet, but what I see in her is that word is freedom. It puts her for a second on an equal pegging – ‘I get a say, too. I am not just something to be moved and plopped somewhere else. I am a person and I deserve respect and choice!’ and most often when she uses the power of this word it is not to tell me ‘no, never’ it usually just means ‘not just yet, mom’ or ‘let me think about it for a moment while I finish what I am doing, mom’ but she is not quite articulate enough to say all that yet, so I fill in the words for her by looking in her eyes, feeling into her energy as it shifts through the day, as we do our dance.

Every ‘no’ I hear, I try to listen into it. Honestly sometimes I laugh. It is still fresh enough that it is cute. In fact my daughter doesn’t actually say ‘no’ yet, she signs it. I modified the sign from ASL to be easier for her, I gave her a proper, cool finger waggle and I love when she gets that finger out. ‘No, mommy’ (waggle, waggle). ‘I don’t want to put my PJs on yet. Thank you.’ And I remember, I probably wouldn’t want to be told what to do, when to do it and how to do it all the time, either. I might still have a lot to learn about this (the ‘terrible twos’ lay still ahead of me laughing… or is that screaming and banging their fists on the floor at me?!) but for now, I let her have some ‘nos’. I let her have as many as possible.



12 thoughts on “Yes, I defend my child’s right to say ‘no’

  1. this is a really awesome articulation on the subject… i’ve been searching for words to express to my husband and my mother in law my feelings on the subject… thank you

  2. It helps that she’s just so gosh darn cute when she does it!
    Sure sometimes she’ll scream and run away (which is especially hilarious when she runs screaming into the bedroom to avoid having to go to bed), but I would say most of the time she either does the thing or quietly but assertively wag her finger and shake her head.
    Its weird some of the things she’ll say no to. ‘Today it has to be mommy that pours my water!’
    And we might never know why today it had to be mommy and tomorrow daddy, but its obviously important to her so today mommy gets the water! Of course this attitude will probably change when she starts demanding ice-cream for dinner but for now I’m just so happy that she’s communicating!

  3. Pingback: Finding my voice, even as think I am helping my daughter find hers (I am pretty sure she already knows how to use hers!) « Loving Earth Mama

  4. You know, the twos aren’t terrible. It’s all a matter of perspective. :) I don’t find it harder than trying to learn the ways and quirks of a newborn…just different. :)

    And do also try to respect no, and to give choices whenever I can. There are so many things that aren’t worth arguing over. Not even shoes…you walk out once in the snow barefoot once and you are likely to volunteer next time anyway. LOL

    • haha – yes, ‘natural consequences’ as they call them. I love the ‘walking in snow’ example, yes – not very likely in Cali, where we live, though lol.

      And I totally agree, we like to call them the terrific twos, the transformative twos, the let’s-wait-and-see-how-they-are-for-us twos. Negative labels and projections definitely don’t help us meet and greet what is there with our most open and expectant self, right? :)

  5. Pingback: Ask me ‘why’ one more time, kid – make my day! « Loving Earth Mama

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