They relish the power it gives them to investigate their world. It’s simple stimulus response: They say “no” to see what the grown-ups do!
Two years olds’ brains are pretty interested in getting results–and the most fun result of all is an adult’s passionate reaction! Twos are constantly experimenting with this shiny new social tool that they have accidentally discovered.
I remember my son Will, when he was about this age taking the “no” social experiment a step further with his uncle George who was visiting. He would ask (or probably tell) George to do something and then quickly follow up with a loud: “Don’t say no, Gorge!”
By the you are 5, a the word “no” has been socialized out of you and sent underground to be expressed in a more “socially acceptable” way, because the adults in your life have told you: “It’s Not Nice to say No!”
How do you say “no?”
(If you don’t say no when you need to, your body will let you know that you need to eventually.)
Drat those inner conflicts!
There are probably at least as many ways to say “no” as Paul Simon sang for leaving a lover:
“Just slip out the back, Jack
Make a new plan, Stan
You don’t need to be coy, Roy
Just get yourself free
Hop on the bus, Gus
You don’t need to discuss much
Just drop off the key, Lee
And get yourself free”
Maybe you’re like this lady draped over the chair!? My grown sons have told me that when they were growing up I was a pretty big martyr.
I didn’t see it then and have a hard time seeing it now. That means it’s probably true.
And it also means that I need to keep my “no” polished up and ready to use when I need it.
Saying “Not tonight, the kitchen is closed. We’re ordering pizza” is a lot happier than draping yourself over a fainting couch.
It’s sexier too! 😉