I think that I've mentioned once or twice that I worked at a day care (lol I know that I mention it often). Part of our rules was that we had be positive as much as we could with the children. Now I worked with two year olds. Somewhere between having an adoring infant who loves you and wants to please you and a preschooler who loves school, a child starts realizing that they are independent and don't have to do what you tell them to. And this usually happens during the terrible twos. I found it very difficult to be positive especially since they don't share, get into stuff they shouldn't, and throw temper tantrums if they don't get their way. But you can still do it. You just have to not use the word no.
There's this lovely article in Parents Magazine called "Saying no to no" which illustrates it wonderfully. One of the easiest ways to get rid of no is telling children what you mean when you say no. For example, little Kim sees the paint that you've set up for an art project and decides to paint her hands because you did that yesterday. Instead of saying no say "stop." Or if Jose decides to run outside without permission bee-lining it for the street yell "freeze." Or if a Max sees a nice hot pot simmering on the stove say "hot." If the child is not in immediate danger, say they are throwing toys at the wall, you can add some manners to it like "Please, stop throwing toys."
The other way to avoid the no, is by telling them what they can do. For example, they want candy. You can say "you can have some strawberries" or "you can have a piece of candy after dinner." If they are fighting over a toy, you can set a timer and say. "Jim gets the truck for three minutes and then Mindy can have it after that." Or at bed time "Can I read another book?" "We'll read another book tomorrow." Sometimes they have meltdowns but you would be surprised. The fighting over the toy happened often so I bought multiples of toys and set a timer. Usually before the timer went off, the other child gave up the toy and so his friend could play with it. Since both children knew that they would get a chance to play with the toy, peace would occur.
If children hear no all the time, they feel like they can't control there lives which is how temper tantrums start. Sometimes though temper tantrums are because the child is trying to tell you something but you aren't understanding them. That's why I'm going to teach our son baby signs. That way if he's tired he can sign so and then I can say "Okay. We will go home and you can take a nap." And then he won't hear no or I don't understand. He'll feel like he can do things and be heard.
Here are some other phrases to diffuse the situation taken from the article:
You want them to clean their room; they want to watch tv.
- Say, You can watch tv after you clean your room. instead of No, tv until you clean your room.
They are fighting with their sibling.
- Say, hugs and kisses are okay. Fighting isn't. Instead of, no hitting, punching, kicking, etc your sister.
They start jumping on the couch.
- Say, go jump on the floor. Instead of don't or no jumping on the couch.
They want to play kick ball in the house.
- Say go play outside. Instead of No kick ball in the house.
They start whining or crying.
-Say I can't understand you. Could you please use your normal/nice voice? Instead of stop crying or no whining.
Although these phrases do work wonders, keep in mind the volume of your voice also makes a difference. Save shouting and yelling for dangerous situations only. Do not yell while punishing; use a stern/authoritative voice instead. Children tend to tune out and shut down to a barrage of yelling regardless of how positive. Sometimes the easiest way to get a child's attention is to whisper especially if they are being loud.