The “No Cop” Approach
“No” is my toddler’s best friend. It slides off her tongue like water, smooth and effortless, every time she’s asked a question. She loves how it sounds bouncing off the living room walls, how it feels trickling out of her mouth, how it looks landing on the ears of her tired and frustrated subjects (namely, yours truly). It’s her prized possession, her holy grail – her little one-syllable treasure.
Even when she means “yes” she says “no.” Did you have fun at day care? No. Do you want some birthday cake? No. Is blue your favorite color? No. Is“no” your favorite word? No. She just turned three a few days ago, but she’s already got this “threenager” thing down to a science. Just ask our neighbors, innocent victims of her incessant protests whenever we play outside.
Case numero uno. The last time I asked her to brush her teeth she threw herself on the floor like I’d just snapped all her Barney DVDs in half – oh, how I wish! – and lost herself in a sea of ear-piercing wails. “No, no, no!” she cried, clutching her hand over her mouth like an iron prison door. “I don’t want to!”
I’ve never actually read a parenting book, but I imagine most of them warn against pretending your child doesn’t exist, which is fine and all unless said child is mine. I’ve tried nurturing consolation and I’ve tried strict discipline, and it turns out my daughter is voluntarily allergic to both. She takes advantage of good cop, and assaults bad cop with her favorite word, so when the little dictator started spewing out “no!” at the sight of her toothbrush, I did what any rational person would do and walked away. I call it the “no cop” approach – or the “you deal with your own public disturbances” method – and while the results thus far have been inconclusive I must say that I’ve really enjoyed the effect it’s having on my sanity. Ignorance may not be bliss, but it sure is the less torturous alternative.