They say that a toddler’s favourite word is “No”, so we trained Owl to say “Yes” instead.
It was fairly easy. We just made a point of only offering a choice for things we KNEW he wanted, like strawberries or going to the park or getting down from his high chair. Preferably something he had been begging for already.
“You want down/strawberries/to go for a walk?”
When he replied “No!” we took him for his word. “Okay, then.”
We’d then hum to ourselves for a few seconds while his little baby brain would nearly burst with frustration. Then we’d offer it again, prompting with “Yes?”
He caught on fast. He basically knows that all of our questions are trick questions. If we are offering him a choice, it must be something he wants, because otherwise we’d just be saying “We’re going inside now, not a choice.”
So now he says “yes” to just about everything.
Me: “Do you want me to sell you to the gypsies?”
Sometimes he just agrees with us randomly when we’re talking just in case we’re talking about something HE MIGHT WANT.
Me: “Why did we decide to have a child?”
The only pocket of resistance that we get is when he has to do something he doesn’t want in order to get something he does want. Then it’s pretty funny to watch.
PH: “You want down from the stroller?”
PH: “Okay, but you have to hold my hand.”
Owl: “No! No hand!”
PH: “Okay, then you’re going back in the stroller.”
PH: “Oh, you want to hold my hand after all?”
When we’re feeling really cruel, we deny him what he wants even when he puts a comma after the word “No.”
Me: “If you don’t put on your shoes, we can’t go for a walk.”
Owl: “NO, WALK!”
Me: “No walk? Okay. Owl doesn’t want a walk.”
Owl: “No! Walk. Walk!”
Me: “Wait, so do you want a walk?”
Me: “Okay, then put on your shoes.”
It’s easy for him to answer yes/no questions when he knows the correct answer is almost always yes (unless we’re genuinely offering him a choice, which happens sometimes).
Either/Or questions aren’t going so well, though.
PH: “Do you want to hold Daddy’s hand or go in the stroller?”
PH: “Yes to what? Holding Daddy’s hand or going in the stroller?”
PH: “Owl – do you want to hold Daddy’s hand or do you want to go in the stroller?”