5 Ways to Encourage Positive Behaviors in Your Toddler

If you are hearing yourself say “no” every other word to your little one then it may be time to rethink your strategy.  There are times when “no” is the best thing to say and very appropriate.  However, if you sound like a broken record than clearly the word “no” has lost its effectiveness.  If you are looking for ways to avoid saying “no” then you have come to the right place!  Read on to discover 5 ways to avoid saying “no” to your toddler.

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Make sure to toddler proof your home…then do it again…and again!  As your little one grows and changes they will be able to get into different things. It is important to get down to their level and really look at what may be interesting to their little eyes.  What they were not able to get into one day, may be in plain sight the next.

If you don’t want to have to tell them “no”,  prevent this by creating an environment that is very toddler friendly.  This way you won’t have to battle a tantrum when they get a hold of something they shouldn’t have or tell them “no” when they see something interesting that is not appropriate for them to play with.

Tell Your Toddler What They CAN Do

Tell your toddler what they can do, instead of what they can’t.  Have they decided that jumping on the couch is a good idea?  If it is not an option then tell them they can jump on the floor, a blanket, or even on a pillow that is on the ground.  Take a second and stop to think if there is an alternative option that would satisfy both of you. Do they want to go outside but it is too cold or too hot?

Tell them some other options instead of just saying “no”.  Maybe you could take out the play dough or another favorite activity.  “No” can also be a trigger word for tantrums which is another great reason to avoid it when possible.


This technique can work wonders in a pinch!  If they have just starting doing something inappropriate, see if you can distract them so the behavior doesn’t continue.  If your little one is about to hit their sister, maybe quick point out the window to show them that it is starting to rain.  Maybe a squirrel is running by or there is a school bus coming down the street.

If there is nothing going on outside then try to point out something within your house that you have never talked about before like an old cuckoo clock.


Choices are magical because they make your child feel like they have control, but in reality the control is still in your power.  Meal times can be a struggle for any parent or toddler as it seems they have an appetite for everything aside from what you have cooked.

You can encourage your toddler to help you make decisions while you are cooking dinner such as “should we make broccoli or cauliflower?”  This will also make them more likely to eat it because they got to pick it out.

Always choose options that you want them to actually have (don’t offer ice cream if it’s not on the menu) and only give them two options to choose from.  If you go past two choices little ones can get overwhelmed by all the options and it will confuse hem.

Instead of giving your toddler a whole plate full of food at once, let them pick out what they want to eat first.  “Do you want some meatloaf or carrots?” You may see a little smile emerge as they become intrigued with having an option. We spend a lot of time “telling” our children what to do, give them a break and let them tell you!

Get Down to Their Level

If they have gotten into a drawer that isn’t safe than simply get down to their level and explain the reason to them.  This is a great strategy because not only are you avoiding “no” but you are teaching them about something instead.

Are they asking for juice but they have already 3 glasses today?  Offer an alternative and tell them why:  “I understand you want juice but too much is bad for your teeth, so let’s have some water.”  Fill up a glass and drink it with them.

When using any new strategy it is important to be consistent.  When you are not consistent with these strategies they will not be effective and your child may get confused by rules that aren’t always enforced.  It may be best to start with one strategy and add the others so that you don’t get overwhelmed and you can use them effectively.

What do you do to encourage positive behaviors at home?  Tell me about it in the comments below or find me on Facebook!  I would love to hear from you!


How to Encourage Positive Behaviors>

About Kayla ONeill

This is me and my beautiful bouncing baby boy! Before my little guy arrived I earned a Bachelor's degree in Special Education Birth to 21 as well as my Masters in Education. For six years I worked as an Early Interventionist serving children and families from birth to age three before becoming a stay at home mom to be with my son.

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