No liking it.
August 04, 2011

A couple weeks ago when Charlotte encountered her first bully I taught her that although we cannot control how other people behave, we can control how we react.  I told her that it is always important to stand up for ourselves and for other people who are not being treated with respect.  “Tell them you do not like it,” I said to her.

“NO LIKING IT,” she parroted back.

“That works,” I nodded.  “Say NO LIKING IT.”

Several days after we met the bully, a toddler tried poking her eyes.  The boy was just curious, and at first Charlotte only backed away.  Then she started throwing desperate looks at me, so finally I knelt down at her level.

“Hey there, wild thing,” I said.  “I noticed that your friend’s behavior is frustrating you.  Do you remember what we tell people when their actions upset us?”

She thought about it for awhile and then “YES!” she exclaimed.  “Say NO LIKING IT!”

The next time the other toddler tried to jab her in the eye, my daughter turned to face him.  “NO!” she said forcefully.  “NO LIKING IT!”  And not only did the kid listen – his mother did too.  She came down to Charlotte’s eye level and thanked her for speaking so clearly.  “YES!  WELCOME!” my daughter chirped.  I beamed with pride.

That was the moment that Charlotte realized that not only did she have the power to speak for herself, but the words NO LIKING IT made people listen.  She took to those words like a fish takes to water.  Strawberries on her lunch plate without the greens cut off?  NO LIKING IT.  Took her to the arroyo instead of the park?  NO LIKING IT.  Made her hold my hand in a parking lot?  NO LIKING IT.


“MOMMA, KISSING STOPPING IT!  NO LIKING IT!“

We have, in fact, been mired in our own special form of two-year-old Hell.  Every time that we do not read her ever-changing mind, Charlotte lets us know by announcing her displeasure.  NO LIKING IT.  NO LIKING IT.  NO LIKING IT.  I don’t even think there are numbers to count how many times she throws those words out in a day.

Last night, Donald and I took her to a regional park nearby.  It’s filled with old trees that are perfect for climbing, playgrounds of every shape and size, and older children more than willing to show her the ropes.  But nothing went quite as well as Charlotte had hoped.  We stood too close to her while she climbed the stairs.  NO LIKING IT!  She fell and skinned her knee.  NO LIKING IT!  The drinking fountain was broken so she was forced to use her sippy.  NO LIKING IT!  I jumped up and surprised her on the slide.  NO LIKING IT!

An hour in, Donald turns to me exasperated.  “I just wanted to let you know,” he said laughing, “that in fifty years, I am ABSOLUTELY going to remember that you taught her how to say those words.”

All I have to say about that is NO LIKING IT!


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  1. By on August 04, 2011

    This is too funny.  But seriously,  empowering a child to set limits is priceless.

  2. By on August 04, 2011

    So funny and so true.

  3. By Thrifty Vintage Kitten on August 04, 2011

    I totally heart you. This is a great post! I LOVE the way you handled the eye-poking situation. Empowering your little one to stand up for herself makes me want to hand you a cape. Bravo!

    I’m currently in the world of STOP MAMA! Don’t DO that! Two year olds are weird.

  4. By on August 04, 2011

    Empowering them is only part of tho, I think, we must then honor those “no liking it” declarations with correct action. I have seen where caregivers will teach a kid to speak for itself and then not do it. The kid will speak and the adult will laugh or say ‘how cute, but…’

    We must follow thru if we want the kids to believe in the power of their words.

  5. By Sarah Christensen on August 04, 2011

    Lynda - I couldn’t agree more.  It’s important to me that Charlotte know we will always listen to her and that we will always take her concerns seriously and that we will not only help her speak,  but also help her communicate so that people will listen.

    But two weeks into this, I just REALLY wish she’d stop changing her mind.  One hour, strawberries need the greens plucked off.  The next hour, she wants to do it herself.  An hour after that, the strawberries need to be chopped up.  OH MY GOODNESS, is a little consistency too much to ask?

  6. By Jordan Marie on August 04, 2011

    As much as we want them to gain their independence, we also pray it happens at a nice slow pace.
    I know I am trying to hold on to my little one with a tight grip but the days slip past anyways. All I can do is capture each memory in pictures, thoughts, and words.
    I love how you’re teaching your daughter core values.
    <3xojo

  7. By Stephanie on August 04, 2011

    I’m definitely not no liking this post ;)

    Also: “OH MY GOODNESS, is a little consistency too much to ask?“

    Ahahaa!  I think the definition of “toddler” is “an inconsistent little human” :D

    Although they seem to thrive on spontaneity it’s definitely frustrating at times for parents!

  8. By on August 05, 2011

    I am so proud of Charlotte. That is awesome - even if “No Liking It” is becoming a nightmare! :) Seeing your comments above, I have so say, the thing that suprised me most about parenthood is the inconsistently. I laugh at my niave pre-parent self when I thought, you just get you kids in a routine and everything is fine. I had no idea, the routine would constantly need to be changed!!! :)

  9. By Jen on August 08, 2011

    At our house it is “No want it!“ Daniel uses it in all the same contexts as Charlotte uses “No Liking It!“ To balance it out a little bit, he has started letting us know when he does appreciate something. After every single song on his Raffi cd he feels the need to tell us “I like that one!“

  10. By Dorothy on September 13, 2011

    Haha being a parent is tough.  Everything you teach has a chance to backfire at some point.


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