We all seem to ooze excitement over our growing children when they start talking. It’s like the heavens open up when they can communicate and it’s a whole new world. However, have you ever sat back as a parent and thought, “Wow, we should not have taught him/her that word. What were we thinking”? We definitely have. Over the past several months as our daughter has moved from simple words to more put together sentences there are five main words that we laugh about, “wishing” that she didn’t know them. They are 5 words to never teach your toddler until they understand the true meaning and when to use them… or just not teach them at all. (Of course all tongue-in-cheek and for humor’s sake).
Please don’t forget, this is all in jest and not meant to be taken seriously.
We all think this is a great word to teach our kids because of course it applies to so many things. More food, more playing time, more blocks, more milk, more tickles, more fun… more everything! But that’s just the “problem”. When your child walks up to you and says or signs “more” with no context, what do you do? It’s like grasping at straws while your child (who is so pleased with knowing a word) asks for something now melts down as you find any and everything more could relate to.
Really, it’s my daughter’s, and every other toddler’s, favorite word. It’s just the shortest, simplest word they can use and it gets the most reaction out of those your toddler is talking to. Whether it is a laugh, a look of concern, or any sort of facial expression, your toddler knows that saying no will lead to a conversation of “no’s” and lots of facial expressions. And sure do love the utter confusion it gives strangers when they say hi and she screams “NO!”
A typical conversation with a toddler who loves the word no…
“Are you hungry?”
“Are you sure?”
“Would you like to eat?”
“Here’s some ice cream.”
Thank you to my wonderful husband for creating the “mine” game to play with our daughter. So I realize she would have learned the word at one point or another, but she developed this attitude in saying it about everything for a good month all because her daddy taught her to say mine in a “cute” way by taking things from her and declaring them his. Don’t do this. It’s bad. Very bad. And as the mother who stays with her all day, I have so not appreciated the possessive stage coupled with vehement “mine’s” all day long. It’s exhausting. But we’re almost through it. She’s a bit more rational now, even if still possessive.
No, child; you do not need in the chair, need to ride in your new car seat, need to play on your bike, or need to carry the bag full of glass objects. I am not quite sure where she picked up the word need, but it has become one of the ones she says the most now. She says it with such a matter of urgency that the first time it got used, I was worried what word would come after it, but soon realized, it was just a word she used to tell me anything she wanted.
I quickly realized that it would be better to teach her the word “want” so that she could better emphasize the things she really needed. Though she does use the phrase “Have it?”, need is still her go-to. I think it’s part of the English and grammar background that has me cringing when she declares that she “neeeeeeeeds” something.
And then she says she needs me and I know she is back on the right track 😉
As parents, we thought this was a great addition to our daughter’s vocabulary. We would encourage her to ask us for help when if something was difficult and all was going well until we realized that she knew she would get our immediate attention when asking for help.
Let me set the stage for you. My high school students were graduating one night and we had a whiny toddler. This meant I went to graduation myself and that evening my husband took our daughter to a mall nearby. They apparently had a nice time and were walking to the door to leave as my daughter starts screaming “HELP! HELP!”. I am not sure about you, but seeing a large man struggle with a toddler screaming help as they leave the mall is cause for concern. And apparently he did get a lot of stares and looks as our child declared she needed help as they walked through the parking lot at night.
That’s not the only time it has happened and every time she screams help in public there is always some embarrassment that follows. I have definitely run into old church friends because they were checking on my daughter around the corner with concern as she declared she “Needed Help”. (Again surfaces where “need” is a word to never teach your toddler).
What words have you “regretted” teaching your child?
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Kara is an author and advocate for positive, grace-filled parenting. She is homeschooler to her 4 children living in Boston, MA and believes in creative educational approaches to help kids dive deeper into a rich learning experience. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!