Why is "no" one of the first words that your toddler will learn to say? It's because he/she hears it all the time. "No, no, no." It is often a safety issue and it helps you teach them what they may and may not do, but there are more positive ways to get your message across.
Turning Negatives into Positives
The best way to teach your child the proper behavior or action, is not to tell them what not to do (confusing, right?), but tell them what you want them to do. For example, rather than saying, "Don't pull the cats tail!" you could say, "Pet the kitty nicely, like this." Instead of saying "Don't stand up in your chair!" try, "Sit down, please. Sit." Repeat the message that you want them to understand, as in "sit". It makes your message forward, simple and clear. If it's appropriate, show them what you want them to do (like the kitty example). To find simple signs from American Sign Language, click here for a video-dictionary. It is helpful to use signs with your child to show them what you want because it gives them visual cues to compliment the verbal instruction.
When "No" is okay
If saying no is unavoidable, as it sometimes is, try including "thank you" after it. It turns the phrase into a more positive one, while modeling good manners for your child. This is especially effective in a quick situation where you want to yell "no", to stop your child from doing something dangerous. It's hard to yell "thank you" so it will help you stay calm and because you say "no" infrequently, it carries more impact.
Nanny Fraser Home Daycare says "Positive language is always used to communicate with children with warmth and respect. Using positive language helps children to feel valued and respected." Practice positive language throughout your day, so it becomes part of your natural speech. All day children hear, "Stop! Don't do that! No!" but we would all benefit from more positivity.
Search "child development" at the Lexington Public Library for books with lots of easy parenting tips and advice on helping your child approach life with a positive outlook.