Negativism

A normal part of growth and development will include negativism.

As your child grows they will go through a normal developmental stage of being negative.  Most children go through a period of time, typically around 14 months, or until age 3, when they seem to resist everything their parents want them to do; their favorite word seems to be no.  This is a time when your toddler begins to develop a strong sense of becoming their own separate person with their own wants, needs, ideas and abilities.  This stage of negativism can be very frustrating for a caregiver but it is important for their growth and development.

This stage of negativity is difficult for most adults to manage. Also at this time their understanding of language is still incomplete, which can make things even more difficult and challenging.  Children may resist cooperating even when they don’t know what you mean.  While trying to get through this difficult stage Michigan State University Extension recommends keeping in mind that this stage will eventually pass and that this is an important time of learning for your child.  Some techniques that may help you and your child during this phase include:

  • Maintain firm and reasonable limits, even though your child objects. Riding in a car seat is good example.  This is a safety concern and there will be no other choice.
  • Give them opportunities to make choices on their own.  However, give them only a couple of options, both of which you are willing to accept.  You might offer “do you want your blankets on or off?”  “Would you like the blue or white cup?”  Offering unlimited choices may be too overwhelming, or they may make a choice you are not willing to accept. 
  • Avoid giving choices when “no” is not an option.  Do not ask, “Do you want to leave the park now?”  Instead ask, “Would you like to leave the park now or in 10 minutes?”
  • Accept no sometimes.  “Would you like to play with the blocks?”  It’s ok if they say no!

Just like all other stages of development your child need’s you to help them learn.  Maintaining a positive attitude will help both you and your child during this challenging period.  When you respond to them calmly, consistently and lovingly you will promote healthy brain development, encourage their emotional development and will decrease stress.

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