No means no, kinda, sorta, barely...
by Karla ° Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Ok, I still have about a million and twenty four things to learn about my new camera, and there is a lot to get used too, like the fact the pretty screen that I used to aim in the general direction of the area I wanted to take a photo of has been replaced with a white and gray display panel full of letters and numbers and icons that may or may not make sense, depending on what page of the manual I have read up to, but so far, it’s been a lot of fun.

I debated even mentioning that I got a new camera, for fear that all of a sudden there would be this cloud of expectation looming over my head that my pictures are actually supposed to look all fabulous and amazing, but then I remembered that Rome was not built in a day, and also, the Internet is a very forgiving place, low-light settings, incorrect white balance and all.


Last weekend we lugged all of our Christmas gear out of storage and bedecked our humble home in holiday greenery and sparkle.

The box that I like to open first is the one that contains our tree ornaments. Decorating the tree is one of my absolute most favourite things about Christmas, and as I opened the box of gold-themed tree garnishments, my nostrils were greeted with the familiar aroma of cranberry home fragrance oil delicately wrapped with a hint of staleness from the tissue wrapped ornaments spending the past year tucked away inside the shadows of a musty basement corner.

This, surprisingly, felt comforting to me. It reminded me a time of bewildered excitement from my childhood when my mom would venture into the deep storage recess underneath our stairway and pull out box upon box of holiday decorations, each one more symbolic of Santa’s imminent arrival than the next.

You know, if it was up to Mark and me, we would leave the tree up all year and just keep switching up the decorations to coincide with the holiday du jour. Seriously, there are just not enough opportunities in life to put something so blatantly large and flamboyant in your living room. Like, for Thanksgiving, we could replace the symbolic tree-top star with a butterball turkey, to you know, honour all of the turkeys that scarified their lives so that we could eat them with potatoes and gravy.

The only problem that I see with this idea, however, is how weary I would grow trying to keep Nate from batting/tugging/swatting/tasting/poking/climbing the tree all year long.

He is at that point now where he must explore everything around him and by default, that means that I am now at that point where I’m struggling with being effective at correcting unwanted behaviour.

He understands ‘No’ just long enough to forget what ‘No’ means and then I have to remind him again and again and again. This means that ‘No’ has essentially become background noise to him and its losing power very quickly.

Does anyone have any advice on how, exactly, to communicate right and wrong with an almost one year old baby without sounding like a broken, ineffective record?


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I am in the exact same situation right now with my 11 month old son. He ignores the word 'no' 99% of the time, and I know he knows what it means. I find he looks at me when he is about to do something he shouldn't be doing to see what I am going to do. We too are at a loss of what to do. I am interested to see what suggestions people have.
Posted by Anonymous Anonymous :  December 05, 2007

Hmmm, to save your voice and encourage Nate's natural and wonderful childhood curiosity, babyproofing where you let Nate roam is the way to go. Saying No to him probably sounds like "go, go, go" and his understanding of No is "hey, if I do this, I get mum's attention, really quickly. Let's test her again (and again, and again).See? Wow, it works so well, I think I'll test mum again!"
Some people put the tree up behind a fence/gate/sofa or on a table to keep it out of the reach of wee ones. We put all our non-breakable ornaments that we could live without if they went, ahem, missing, below 2 feet when Clara was little and she played with them all. And all the nice stuff was out of arms reach.
Good luck whatever you do!
Posted by Blogger Mama T :  December 05, 2007

When Eirinn was that age (she's 21 months now) I didn't even bother trying. I just baby-proofed the crap out of my house. The tree was bare up to baby arm's reach, all cupboards were locked, babygates decorated every doorway, etc. It was just a losing battle when I tried to actually 'teach' her what she could and couldn't do. She eventually lost interest and all evidence of baby proofing is gone (save one cupboard lock on the cupboard that contains Goldfish Crackers).

Now that she's older, when she hears 'no', she immediately throws a temper tantrum. I don't know where I grew the strength, but I don't cave even when she's screaming and flailing like a banshee.
Posted by Anonymous Jen O. :  December 05, 2007

At that age I use distraction for the little things and no for the important things.

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous :  December 05, 2007

My daughter just turned one, and I try to save the word "No!" for when she's doing something that could potentially harm herself. I try not to use it unless she is REALLY doing something that isn't safe. I make the tone of my voice very stern and insistant.

Even though she KNOWS what the word "no" means, she still tests the waters now and again. All kids will. But if you use it 100 times a day they'll be less likely to take you seriously.
Posted by Anonymous lovebuzz38 :  December 05, 2007

We spent several years with our tree behind the couch for that very reason. One year we got a real tree and Puppy, who was 100% reliably housebroke and had been for years, lifted his leg to it. He got a big old no for that!
Posted by Blogger Julia :  December 05, 2007

When my daughter was that little we started the general idea of timeouts...not that she fully got it but more for making it a part of her world so that when she did start to understand it it wasn't some sort of shock. Mostly what a time out meant was not getting to be right where she was enjoying doing what she shouldn't have been doing. I agree with the above mentioned not making a big deal out of everything you don't want him doing but distracting and using real discipline for the dangerous stuff. When my daughter was doing something dangerous like trying to climb the stairs or put her finger in an outlet I would go down to her, very firmly say NO and then remove her telling her she couldn't play there anymore. They understand far more than we give them credit for and I was amazed how quickly she picked up the concept and was not happy about being moved. We did baby proof but I also found that leaving certain situations open (especially when I was right there to teach her) allowed for a learning curve that I was very thankful for when we would go somewhere else that wasn't so baby proofed. I would say that we were consistent with this method from 10 months on and it really clicked with her at about 14 can feel overwhelming and unproductive at first but I have really seen her respond positively to knowing what to expect. Now at 21 months we have real time-outs that last about a minute with a timer in a specific place and we've had little to no problem with that being enough to stop the behavior...of course at almost two she repeats a lot of the same offenses but that is where Mama's just have to figure out a way to have a ridiculous amount of patience and consistency.
I'm sure you will fall into a method that works best for you and for Nate...

It's a hard age...

Emily things that all of the tree ornaments are "toys".

Posted by Blogger Angella :  December 05, 2007

I found my little ones knew exactly what no meant - when they said it (no to shoes, no to stroller, no to nap). When Matt and I said the word no, they were all "I'm sorry, did you speak?"
We used happiest toddler on the block (cheesy and gimmicky but good strategies) with our littlest two and it seemed helpful - more helpful than just banging my head up against the wall in frustration anyway...
only bit of practical advise it to try "hot" or "stop" and see if that gets you anywhere.
Posted by Blogger Karen :  December 05, 2007

Boston's favorite word to say these days is "NO" which makes me think I've said it way too many times and now it's ingrained in his brain. I also don't know if saying it does much good, because usually when we tell him "NO" he looks at us and laughs! The ornaments on our tree are all clumped together and it's not symetrical at all, because he keeps messing with them, but I guess kids are what Christmas is all about, so who cares if the tree isn't perfect and it has his tooth bruush sticking out of it!

1) I love the doornob picture.
2) I love the year-round tree idea.
3) It wouldn't work at my house either (Zack has already broken the majority of my glass bulbs).

The tree is a wondrous thing! Hope you and yours are enjoying the season!
Posted by Blogger shauna :  December 06, 2007

I wonder if tasting the Christmas tree would be enough of a deterrent for Nate? I can't imagine it tastes good...
Posted by Blogger H :  December 06, 2007

Thank so much, everyone, for your advice on keeping Nate’s prying baby hands away from the Christmas tree.

More diligent baby-proofing in the form of a Christmas tree baracade (i.e. creative furniture placement) it is.
Posted by Blogger karla :  December 06, 2007

I must be the luckiest girl in the world, because Porgie cries when I tell her "No."
Posted by Blogger Christy :  December 06, 2007

My son is 18 months old, and prefers to ignore the word "no". It has completely vanished from the English language, in his mind anyway.
So what we did to solve the Christmas Tree dilemma....we didn't put anything breakable on the tree....this solves the clean up problem when he pull it down! Then we put ornaments that he can play with safely at the bottom....these would be the ones that when he throws them, they won't break a window!
Tree problem solved...although we started with a good amount of ornaments when we put the tree up....and now....well let's just say I need to check his hiding spots! I will post "The Toddler Proof Tree" at


I perfected a very excited and high pitched, "Oooh!" which I followed with, "Did you see this" or "can you do this?" It seemed to work with Briar to present an alternative to what she was doing in a sort of "Can ya believe it?" breathlessness.

Worth a shot, no?
Posted by Blogger Amanda :  December 06, 2007

I've raised 4 kids and can't give you any advice about no.

However, I can tell you what we did about the tree. We used the playpen. Not for the baby, but for the tree. It worked very well!
Posted by Blogger Linda :  December 06, 2007

I was formulating a response when I came to sufferingsummer's post and so I'll save time by saying...yeah, what she said.
Posted by Blogger Poppy :  December 06, 2007

Nope. I have three boys...saying "NO" over and over got the point across quite effectively. It's just a mom thing...sorry.
Posted by Blogger Kris :  December 07, 2007

If you figure something out reagarding almost 1 year olds, please share the secret. Mine, right now, is facinated by the garbage can--GROSS! We bathe her quite frequently.
Posted by Blogger Erin :  December 07, 2007


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