The Backstory

You know, I was always the type of person that when I heard a child using foul language I’d shake my head and say “tuh, liberal parents”. Or when I saw a child being fresh and all the adults were laughing and recording it, I said the adults were the problem. I said to myself and out loud many times “when I have a child I will not expose them to corrupting language or tolerate any freshness” (probably not the words I used but you get my drift).

When I had my daughter I set out on my mission, my husband and I agreed she would not hear her parents use any language we don’t want her to use and she won’t listen to certain music, to avoid language and messaging we didn’t feel was empowering. We also realized that we could not start this when Jae was of speaking age but we needed to start right away because, of course, our baby is a genius so clearly she would understand it all right away. 

The Main Event!

My daughter Jae started talking at about 12 months old. Her first words were “mama” and “dada”, though there is still some debate about which one came first. Jae’s next words were “amen”, “thanks” and “agua” so you know we were feeling ourselves, and felt like we were doing everything “right.” Several words in, we still didn’t hear any foul language. 

One beautiful day, out of nowhere, and in public no less, my sweet innocent daughter looked at me as I tried to clean her nose, opens her mouth wide and yelled in the loudest and most offensive tone, “NOOOO”! And there it was, the word I had avoided in her presence for months. I watched children for years terrorize and torture parents with that horrible word and I did all I could to avoid it, but alas here I was, face to face with the big bad “NO”!

Once Jae started using this ugly word she just wouldn’t stop. And it wasn’t a calm and collected “no”; it was either loud with an undertone of “somebody help me”, of course mostly in public so everyone could look at me and wonder if the child was mine. Or it was animated and sarcastic. That’s right. My two year old had sarcastic ways of telling me “no”. She would sing it, or draw it out and pretty much taunt me with the word.

What the Research Shows

My daughter had gotten so skilled and well versed in the art of “No” that I did what any other self respecting mother would do…I googled! Who would know that googling “how to stop your toddler from saying no” would yield so many results? I discovered there were so many mothers who were also being terrorized by this foul word. Taunted by sweet innocent faces that blurt out ugly words in the most embarrassing and frustrating way possible. 

A few discoveries from my research:

1. There is an actual name for this phase and it is called “toddler refusal phase”. According to, the technical name for your child’s fascination with the word “no” is “toddler refusal” – and the simple fact is that toddlers say “no” because they can. “They’ve just found out that they have a will, and they want to exercise it,” explains Susanne Denham, professor of developmental psychology at George Mason University and author of Emotional Development in Young Children. 

2. Most parents feel exactly like I did on that fateful day. Apparently being shocked at your child’s defiance is a parental right of passage. 

3. “No” is only a phase and when your child gets more words they may just phase the no out.

What can you do to stop the big bad NO?

There isn’t much parents can do to stop their child from saying no. At some point, unless you always tell your child “yes”, or have a completely different word for “no”, they will use the word on you. Recently, I was reminded of this horrible phase as I was watching an episode of Netflix’s show Working Moms and one of the moms came to a play date and used the forbidden word in a “no-free zone”. I cracked up as I remembered telling people don’t use that word around Jae. Of course, if I’m being honest I probably used it around my daughter the most. What can I say? I ran out of creative ways not to use the word, and frankly I was just confusing myself. 

Jae is now 3 and will still say “no” but between all of her “actually’s” and “honestly’s” I don’t even notice the “no”, I’m too busy trying to figure out who she thinks she’s talking to.

What has been your experience with your child/children? Has he or she started saying no? Were you as shocked as I was? Look forward to hearing from you.

Chat soon!

Mommi Jess

Oh yeah and if you missed my first blog you can check it out here.