Kids Say No - and We Should Give Up - E.C.Knox

Kids say no – and it’s a daily chore to choose that battle.

But with “no”, my youngest cracks me up. At 19 months (a little while ago, now), he said about two-dozen words, including “cha-cha” (chocolate), “eh-fant” (elephant) and “go-go” (yogurt).

He calls seltzer water “bash” because they both call seltzer “spicy water.” (Such an East coast thing. Seltzer burned my throat as a kid, now I drink it by the gallon. We make great use of our Sodastream. #notanad . But in the interest of cutting down on plastic and aluminum waste – get yourself a SodaStream. We don’t put any flavoring in it because all that syrup is nasty. Brapefruit wedges or sliced cucumbers are awesome!)

He says “shoes, bat (bath), buh-sh (toothbrush), car, purple and yellow.”

But he will not say “yes.”

He never hesitates to say “no.”

He will acquiesce to offers with a full-body nod, starting from his waist, to demonstrate “yes”. That’s when we TELL him, “Colton! Time for bath!” or “Time to go for a walk.”

But if we ASK, “do you want to take a bath?” He says, “No.”

Then he skidaddles to the bathroom.

Far be it for me to compare my children…but I will. The older was a “yes” kid – agreeing to everything: water, diaper changes, supply-side economics. They didn’t always mean it, but still always said “yes”.

The younger’s the direct opposite.

The exception is stuff he really wants. And that elicits the full-body nod.

“More raisins, kiddo?”

Full-body nod.

“You want more bash, buddy?”

Full-body nod.

But he will not say “yes”.

The family’s in on the full-body agreement. I asked my older kid to ask their sibling if they wanted a bath. (Younger was busy with his favorite activity: standing on the toilet, leaning on the sink and playing with the water.) After asking, the older said, “Daddy! Daddy! I asked him and he said…

…at which point Older did the full-body nod.

We amuse ourselves by posing Younger a litany of questions:

Do you want dinner?


Do you want a snack?


Do you love me?


Do you love our dog, Maddie?


Do you want to play trains?


Do you like cars?


Do you see the couch?


Do you see anything?


Do you want to be a millionaire?


Do you want to go to Florida?


And then…

Do you want to say “no”?


Never once has he fallen for it for our trick. He has total focus on the questions. He never slips up. He merely remains silent when we ask, “do you want to say ‘no’?”

He never falls for the trick and never slips up saying “yes”.

I’m sure it’s a sign of genius – kids say no. It’s their power.