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Marla Sokoloff’s Blog: No … I Really Mean It

05/24/2013 at 05:30 PM ET

Marla Sokoloff Blog Toddler No
Courtesy Marla Sokoloff

Our celebrity blogger Marla Sokoloff is a new mama!

Since audiences first got to know her at age 12 as Gia on Full House, Sokoloff has had many memorable TV roles — Jody on Party of Five, Lucy on The Practice, Claire on Desperate Housewives – as well as turns on the big screen in Whatever It Takes, Dude, Where’s My Car? and Sugar & Spice.

Sokoloff, 32, also sings and plays guitar and released an album, Grateful, in 2005.

She wed her husband, music composer Alec Puro, in November 2009 and the couple — plus pup Coco Puro — make their home in Los Angeles.

You can find Marla, now mom to 15-month-old daughter Elliotte Anne, on Twitter.

Holy tantrums, Batman. I’m not sure what is going on over here but we have entered a whole new universe. Aren’t the terrible twos supposed to start at two?

Elliotte is at the 15-month mark so it seems as if we are getting a bit of a head start over here. It happened almost overnight. The word “no” became a constant in our house and suddenly my quiet little peach wasn’t so quiet anymore. Her opinions are quite loud and frequent and she certainly isn’t afraid to let me know when I’m doing something that is not up to her standards.

For instance, last week I forgot to add banana to her morning smoothie and she handed it back to me and said, “Nana nana!” Not the most subtle approach, but an effective one to say the least, as you can imagine how quickly I had that banana in the blender!

My husband and I noticed that the word “no” was not only coming out of our daughter’s mouth a little too frequently, (I think I was starting to hear the words “No Mama!” in my sleep!) but it was starting to fly out of our mouths even more so. “No eating the dog food,” “No standing in the bathtub,” “No pulling the dog’s tail,” “No throwing food on the floor,” “No licking the bottom of your shoe” “No this” “No that” etc…

Marla Sokoloff Blog Toddler No
Courtesy Marla Sokoloff

I very quickly started to realize two things:

One: I didn’t like the mom I was becoming. It didn’t feel like me to constantly be scolding her for something or giving her that look. (You know the look parents –we all give it.) The kind of mom I set out to be (and strive to be everyday) is a perfect combination of fun and authority. A jokester that can still be taken seriously if you will.

Two: saying “no” all the time to almost every move the poor girl was making, became ineffective very quickly. Elliotte wasn’t taking me seriously at all. In fact, it was quite the contrary. Within days Elliotte started walking up to certain objects she knew she wasn’t allowed to touch and would point, saying, “No! No!”

The word “No” was a complete joke to her and she knew that me saying it meant absolutely nothing and had zero consequence. If my 15-month-old doesn’t take me seriously now, what does this mean for me when she’s a six-year-old? Or lord help me … a 16-year-old?

Elliotte and I have been in the same Mommy & Me since she was three-months-old, and if I could bottle the wisdom we have garnered and share it with you all I would.

One of the most valuable lectures that our mommy group guru and trusted leader, Jackie Rosenberg of Babies First Class, has given was the infamous “No” lesson. This discussion came at the very second that we were stuck in our “No” vortex, so I was willing to try anything.

Jackie told us mommies to pick only three things that we felt very passionate about saying “No” to and stick to them. Three deal breakers that just could not be negotiated. Her theory is simple: if you are saying “No” all the time, your child will never listen to you. Case in point: Elliotte Anne.

Marla Sokoloff Blog Toddler No
Courtesy Marla Sokoloff

Here are the three “No’s” that my husband and I agreed were the most important to us:

NO #1: Eating or Playing with the Dog’s Food

This is a tricky one. Many with common sense may think- just pick up the dog’s food or feed the dog after the baby goes to sleep if it’s an issue. This was just not something I was willing to do.

Coco Puro is an old lady who doesn’t have many pleasurable things in her post baby life — I sure as heck won’t be taking away her 24-hour buffet, that just seems cruel! So the dog food stays and Elliotte must wait for bath time to splash water on her face. She ate the kibble once and I’m pretty sure she won’t be tasting that delicacy again anytime soon.

NO #2: Standing in the Bathtub

We picked this one for the obvious safety reasons. Bath time, which was once a joyous and fun occasion, has morphed into the most dangerous 10 minutes of the day. Honestly, I’m thrilled and shocked the girl still has all of her 12 teeth still intact! Not only does Elliotte stand in the tub, she also enjoys walking in the tub, which pretty much gives me a full on heart attack every time she does it.

We’ve had many a close call, which in part is why I’ve had to bust out my “mean mom” attitude just a wee bit at bath time. I do it for the good of her precious little face and because the emergency room is just not a place I feel like visiting in the near future.

Miracle upon miracles, just in the past week or so the message has been received and Elliotte is now sitting in the tub! She sits and plays with her toys and actually cries when it’s time to come out because she is enjoying it so much. Who would have thought?

Side note: Whenever Elliotte is doing something that seems unbearable — it always shifts at the very moment that I feel I can’t take it anymore. Bath time was certainly one of those things because I was always so worried she was going to crack her head open. (Geeze — now I’m sounding like my mom!) So now I take a beat before freaking out and losing hope because I know in my heart that it’s a phase and they will all sit down in the tub eventually!

NO #3: Throwing Food While In the Highchair

Elliotte has become quite the picky eater. Gone are the days where she would gladly eat anything. Pretty much every single thing I put on her tray aside from berries, fruit or yogurt is fast rejected.

If I see even a glimmer of her liking a new food I will make her a homemade version of it. Pasta with meatballs off a kid’s menu equals a Bolognese in my trusty slow cooker the very next day = FAIL. Icky frozen chicken fingers turns out lightly breaded organic strips fresh from the oven = NOT SO MUCH.

In my cooking’s defense, there have been many items she has enjoyed thoroughly. Roasted beets, broccoli soup, sweet potato bites, slow cooked black beans and my famous banana bread have been huge hits!

Elliotte will let me know she isn’t enjoying my cooking by vehemently throwing whatever is on her tray on the floor. Or even worse, across the room. After she does said throwing, she gets (and do not tell her I told you this!) the cutest little grin on her face which makes me want to bust out laughing, which I of course do not. That would definitely break about a million rules in the “Getting Your Toddler to Take You Seriously Handbook.”

Instead I insert one of my trusty authoritative “No”s and that will occasionally get the job done. By occasionally, I mean never. We are still working on this one — the process is not flawless.

This “No” really only gets under my skin when we are eating at a restaurant or when my floor is littered with food I spent hours preparing.

Marla Sokoloff Blog Toddler No
Courtesy Marla Sokoloff

Trust me when I say that I’m well aware of the fact that this is only the beginning of her defiance and opinions. I’m actually happy that Elliotte has something to say and that she doesn’t let her old Mom get away with much!

To be 100 percent honest, I wouldn’t change one single solitary thing about her. It is literally impossible to have a bad day when she is around. Her laugh is without a doubt the most incredible sound I have ever heard and this kid is outrageously funny. I want to squeeze and kiss her all day but she’s got better things to do — she’s very busy.

It’s true what they say … it gets better everyday.

Would love to hear your “No”s or maybe you don’t say “No” in your home at all? Share away! Leave a comment below or find me on Twitter @marlasok.

Until next time!

xoxo,

– Marla Sokoloff

More from Marla’s PEOPLE.com blog series:

Exciting Giveaway Alert: Burt’s Bees Baby is giving away a $100 gift card to 20 lucky readers! They have tons of cute baby essentials that make amazing gifts for any new mommy or daddy that you may know. My personal favorite is the adorable Bee Essentials Take Me Home Striped Basket.

All you need to do is head on over to Twitter and tweet us @marlasok AND @CBBVips with the answer to the following trivia question: “Name the actress that introduced me to my husband Alec?” Don’t forget to include the hashtag #MarlasBees. Winners will be notified directly. Good luck!

The Rules: No Purchase Necessary to register and/or participate in this program. Program begins at 5:30 p.m. ET on 5/24/2013 and ends at Ms. Sokoloff’s discretion. All entrants must be age 18 or older at the time of entry. Limited to one entry per Twitter account. Where PEOPLE.com is not the sponsor, it cannot guarantee the availability of any of the items described. Void where prohibited by law.

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Showing 71 comments

Xan on

Aside from being adorable, Eliotte sounds like quite the decisive kiddo! And you sound like a great mom, Marla!

I’m glad to hear that on the issue of the dog food you are putting the dog before the baby. At some point, kids need to learn that while they may be the center of their parents’ world, they don’t run the world. My mom always told me one of the best things you could ever teach a child is consideration. She made sure to instill it in us, and I thank her for it. It’s great for Eliotte to learn that she should respect her furry sister. Good work! :)

mumma on

I have a very…spirited 19 month old, who has voiced his opinion VERY loudly from the start. just an option for if you want to avoid the word “no” (though it is very hard to do ) try saying do not. we have found that it lessened our children’s use of the word, somewhat.

also by starting with a positive. we eat our food or our food stays on the table. stuff like that! otherwise your blog is the one I look forward to reading the most! your daughter is adorable!

Rebecca Janye on

I don’t usually comment on here, but I have to share a tip another mom gave me that completely surprised me by working. I give my son a “discard bowl” with his meal. When he throws or starts to throw something I point to the bowl and say something like “Put it in here” or “No, put it in here” and holy moly, he does! He ends up usually fishing the food back out of the discard bowl at some point in the meal and actually eating the food, but either way it has almost eliminated the food throwing.

If he does throw food still, the meal is over but I don’t put him down. That would teach him to throw food when he’s tired of sitting at the table. I simply take his food away and he can sit there and throw a fit while we finish eating. Of course we would eat very quickly just to make the point. Then everyone leaves the table at the same time. This is totally working so I had to share. Be prepared, she might dump the bowl out on the table in front of her as it fills up. We are okay with that and my son will just refill it or whatever. Good luck!!

Nooo Mamma! on

Sounds like our little girl who is almost 13 months.

I can totally relate to the highchair ‘Noooo’. I would love to see her recipe for broccoli soup! Or any other veggie packed secret.

Marla is so awesome! Love her posts, thank you for sharing!!! Great momma and cute baby!

huh on

I have a 19-month-old that sounds very much like yours. We use “No” quite frequently, but also make it a point to make it “softer”, so to speak. As in, instead of saying “No climbing on the table”, we say “The table is for eating, no climbing”. It seems to have worked for us somewhat.

Also, have you tried just sitting on the side of the tub with your legs in and have her stand between your legs? That’s what I used to do with my toddler when she first started standing on the tub.

As for being a picky eater, I’m with you on that one. My daughter has only a handful of things she consistently eats. Long-gone are the days when she would wolf down a plate of grilled zucchini or shaved raw carrots.

Melissa on

Hello Marla!

“No” is the word around here, too. Our sweet Melia just hit the 16 month mark a few days ago and she is constantly getting into something she shouldn’t be–including standing in the tub. She is our second daughter, so you would think we would know better how to control the situation, but the truth is, we don’t.

Each of the girls is completely different and what worked for one hasn’t worked for the other. What is comes down to is that we focus on keeping her safe and redirecting the behavior we don’t love (playing in the garbage, throwing food on the floor, etc,)

Good luck! We’re in this together sister!

~Melissa :)

Virginia on

In my opinion, just telling a child no does not work. You need to reinforce the “no” with a consequence. When my daughter does something I don’t like, I tell her no in a calm voice and then give her a spank with a rod on her hand or her bottom. She learns real quick that when she does something bad that she will get spanked and learns not to do it.

It has worked great with my oldest daughter and the training has begun with my youngest.

Ariel on

I enjoyed this post a lot. Another great tip I’ve gotten is to speak in the affirmative. “Please just look at the dog food, don’t touch.” You tell the child what they can do, instead of just what they can’t. :)

mamatothree on

Someone told me when my oldest was small that it’s good to teach them that some things are not theirs on purpose. So, we left a few things that weren’t precious, but were not the baby’s, out on tables and such, and taught her not to touch. The dog food makes me think of that-not everything belongs to her.

We do not spank, but when one of our girls grabs something or throws food, we tap (with the strength of patting your leg to get a dog to come to you, not hitting) their hand or foot or whatever the offending limb is and say “Look at mama. Hand, no throwing” and tap it so she knows what we mean. It seems to work-food throwing has never lasted more than a couple of days, or dog water bowl splashing, etc.

I agree with other posters also-if you make everything a battle, it’s exhausting and you’ll give in sometimes because you’re tired of saying no. Better to redirect most of the time and be choosy about what you say no to. Toddlers are pretty easily swayed by some attention in a positive manner. Elliotte sounds precious, and it sounds like you’re doing a great job. Good parenting is exhausting, isn’t it!?

blessedwithboys on

Virginia, you make me want to vomit.

Marla, I love the idea of the non-negotiable Nos. Another thing you can try is to phrase everything in a positive way…”Leave the dog food alone”, “Sit down in the tub”, “Leave the food on the tray”.

Don’t use TOO many words, but using this technique will actually teach the child a lesson about what is and is not acceptable behavior.

After one or two reminders about throwing food, I would just cheerfully smile and say “You must be all done!” and then just put the child down and finish my meal.

Have you ever heard the phrase “Honor the impulse”? Example: Elliotte wants to play in the dog’s water bowl, instead you put her in the backyard with a bucket of water and some cups for pouring. My friend had a kid who loved to spit, but he would do it at the most inappropriate times. Solution? Give him a paper cup before going into the bank and let him spit his brains out in the car. Problem solved.

I also love the concept of creating a “Yes environment”. Put away the breakable heirlooms, install safety gates, and let the little ones just be. It’s a short enough stage and then they eventually learn self-control. It also helps to have a good grasp of what is age-appropriate behavior.

Whatever you do, please do not hit your child with a rod! Yikes!

Anne on

Moms should re-phrase to a more positive verbage. For throwing…”Food stays ON the tray please”. For dog food “That water is for the DOGGIE ONLY” or “Come away from there please (then remove her). The ‘no’s’ are so, so negative….and yes, uneffective. The negativity is NOT GOOD for your household and family harmony. Instead of saying what NOT to do, tell them what they CAN do.

Jen on

Virginia, your kids are not learning what they shouldn’t do, they are learning to be scared of punishment.

Stacey on

Love that you try not to laugh at some of her misbehavior, I did the same thing with my kids!!

She is so cute, and the picture with the basket, just darling!!!

Someone's Mommy on

My little guy is 19-months-old and I find that when he’s starting to get full from a meal, he’ll being to play with, and subsequently, throw his food. We’re now better about seeing his signs and stepping in before the entire meal goes on the floor :)

As for saying “no,” our kiddo is curious, independent and easily-frustrated. I try my hardest to save saying no for the dangerous stuff (reaching for something hot), and otherwise redirect him (climbing the couch). I don’t want the word “no” to become background noise to him…however he does a good job of saying it to me and my husband regularly!

criticaleye on

My daughters are older than Elliotte- 20 months and 4 yrs old. I do not think that 3 things to pick will be enough in the near future. At home, maybe.

But they want to pick up trash on the street.
They don’t want to hold hands in the parking lot.
They don’t want to sit at the table till they are finished.

What they DO want to do is:
jumping on my bed
writing on the wall with crayons
put nail polish on our cat’s tail
put on my glasses for a role play
go outside in the rain barefoot

and all the funny, risky, outrageous stuff.

For me, 2 things have worked.

1) logical consequence
My younger one threw food, just like Elliotte. But the plate was taken away from her and she had to be fed. Second throwing, and she was removed from the table. I put her down. And she obviously hates to stand alone, looking up to us eating, she quickly improved her manners. I also tought her to push her plate away is she doesn’t want to eat anymore.

2) rephrase it
Instead of overusing NO, I try to express what to do INSTEAD.
Compare these two sentences:
NO throwing food
vs
Please, put it back on the table if you don’t like it. Or give it to mommy.

NO hitting!
VS
Be nice to your sister. If you are angry, and can’t control it, come to me

No standing in the tub!
VS
If you would like to play more with your toys, sit down. If you won’t, you have to get a quick shower and bath time is over.

I only tend to overuse NO when I’m tired and the two of them are annoying all day. But I think they follow my orders much better, if I tell them, what to do instead of what NOT to do.

Good luck!

Jen DC on

we went with distraction instead of “no”. want to play with the stereo knobs again? hey, look! i have your favorite pans for banging, but you can only play with them if you leave the stereo!

or, if what he was attempting wasn’t so dangerous (crawling under the coffee table again?) ,we’d let him do it, get stuck, whine about it and tell him to work it out himself. he learned to leave the coffee table alone.

the kid was never that into throwing food. i nipped the “uh oh” game early on (where he’d drop stuff on the floor and well-meaning visitors, who thought it was cute, would say “uh oh!” and give it back). not in our house. if something is thrown down, it means you don’t want it and you don’t get it back. as he would look down for whatever he’d thrown, i’d just matter of factly look him in the eye and say, “You didn’t want that? Why didn’t you tell Aunty?” and leave it there. he threw food a couple of times and getting the same reaction, quickly stopped. plus, that boy liked to eat, so it was rare there was anything left to throw.

i ended up hardly ever saying so, so when i would, he’d snatch his little hand back so fast! and look at me with the big eyes. of course, if i had to say it, i would also use what we came to call TONE: i’m one of those folks who can make my voice hard and distinct from my normal voice so that even rebellious strangers’ kids listen to me. if i switched to TONE, he’d immediately do whatever i’d said. no yelling, just TONE. so get your tough mommy voice on, let her know that you *really* mean business! she’ll know. :D

the other suggestions (other than spanking) are really excellent! i never thought of a “don’t like this” bowl. “giving into the impulse” SO SMART!

Virginia on

Why is it that so many people think spanking a child is wrong. I do not beat my children. When they misbehave they get a swat on the butt or when they are little a flick on the hand for touching something they shouldn’t or throwing food or a flick on the cheek for screaming or biting.

I am constantly being complimented on how well behaved they are. They sit quietly when eating until everyone is done. They don’t run all over the place in public. They don’t touch everything in the store they see. They listen the first time I tell them to do things.

They still get to run and be crazy at the appropriate times. They are happy and fun. They don’t stress me out because they listen. They enjoy helping while still learning.

Everyone has their own way to raise and discipline their children. As long as children are not being abused, Don’t hate someone for having an opinion. I’m not telling people that is the way they have to discipline, it’s my opinion and they way I choose to. For those that are Christians, that is the way God says to discipline in the bible. May he be the only one to judge me for my actions.

God bless you and Elliotte. She is a precious little girl. May you be blessed however you choose to discipline her.

Shawna on

Hate to burst the bubble but guess what? You won’t damage your child by disciplining them and telling them no! And you don’t even have to pick a few things you are allowed to control and let your toddler run rampant. I remember being a mom of just toddlers and every decision seemed so darn important. Newsflash – you will make mistakes, your kids will make mistakes, you’ll all come out okay! Stop overthinking everything.

Shawna on

P.S. Also, stop trying to reinvent the wheel! I love how parents of babies/toddlers have all this awesome insight and feel they need to share it with the world as if they are the first one to ever come up with it.

Shannan on

With our now 18 month old we use the saying, ” Not for Katie” when she gets into things that she shouldn’t. Like you, we save the “no’s” for bath time and for other safety issues. We agree the word no should be sparingly.

Laura on

Virginia, you could literally be arrested and charged for that in New Zealand. Spanking is against the law here.

Bugsmum on

Such a great blog (as usual). Our nearly 2yr old Bug is a boundry pusher with a cheeky smile. We did something similar to the just chose 3 thing but we had a few more. Pet bowls were a biggie in our house, she was told No often and redirected but we also started encouraging her to help us saying things like “Thank you for helping pour the food, now we leave the bowls alone so cats can eat”. Now when we ask her to help she yells “Helper, helper, I get a bowls”. It seems to have worked with her.

We also try the more positive phrasing but somedays I find myself says no more than I would like. Raising decent human beings is hard work!!!

robinepowell on

Terrible Twos start at around 1 1/2 and can last until about 2 1/2 and after that, there’s now Terrible Threes. ;)

Stacey on

Virginia, flicking your young child on the cheek is horribly cruel, not to mention far beyond weird. I would be in tears if I did that to my little guy. You don’t have to act like Hilter to have kids who are well behaved or even to raise kids who love God. Do you really think that being harsh with them is going to turn their hearts toward Him?

And who really cares if everyone tells you how well behaved they are…………….Is parenting an awards show for you?

Stacey on

And Virginia, what do you think flicking their little faces and little hands is doing to their self esteem? Please reevaluate how you are disciplining your little girls.

smh@people on

Stacey I don’t think Virginia is trying to win an award, she’s proving a point by telling people that how she is disciplining her kids is working! Kudos to you Virginia!

Ann on

I used this…and it worked until Grandma didn’t say no when Mama would…helps when you don’t have someone undermining your every parenting decision.

Hey Paw on

I found that, instead of constantly saying no, I praised him when he did well. That doesn’t mean I didn’t say no, I did, I just tried to praise him for doing good MORE than saying no. I also didn’t take orders. Discipline starts as soon as they can reach for things and crawl. Period. If I had to say NO (and he is placed somewhere that is a YES and stays then he gets smiles, happy face, positive remarks), and he didn’t listen, he has the three strike rule. If, after three No’sThe item was removed, with a sharp no, and he got frowny, disapproval, upset Mommy face. You’ll be surprised how well this works.

As for the food, one chance with that. If he wanted to feed himself, he had to feed himself not the floor or the walls. Or, food was taken away and Mommy fed him. Temper tantrums? Food sits on table, away from baby until baby stops crying and screaming, the feeding resumes. The absolute WORST thing you can do is, give in to a temper tantrum. Crying and screaming will not kill them. If they see it works and they get what they want, then you are in trouble and you did it to yourself. They are learning, they are watching, listening and seeing. Temper Tantrum + consistently not getting what they want and being ignored = no more temper tantrums. Temper Trantrum + Mommy/Daddy jumping up to do whatever it takes to stop the noise = more temper tantrums. Simple. Really it is. I walked all around TJ Maxx one day with my son, around 18 months old, screaming his head off bc he didn’t get to have a toy. I could have left, but that would teach him, if he doesn’t want to be somewhere, scream Mommy will leave. I am sorry ppl were annoyed, but I stayed away from areas were ppl were wandered around, on purpose, until the tantrum stopped. Then I purchased my items, minus a toy, and we left. The next time we were in there, I told him before we went in,” NO TOYS, understand?” He nodded his head yes, and we had no problems.

Another good point, never say OK to a child. They think you are asking for their opinion, like they have an option. Back to the TJ Maxx visit, I told him “no toys, understand?”, instead of “no toys, ok?” that’s a confusing statement because ok is like a yes or no question. For instance, “Let’s put these toys up, ok”? He says “No, I’m playing with them.” To which I say, “oh, ok.” Remember, YOU are the MOMMMY, they are the child. They don’t know anything, it’s up to us to teach them. They can’t raise themselves, otherwise, there would be no Mommy’s!

auntieali1 on

Mine is a month away from two, but started in on his terrible twos early too – I like to think he’s just that advanced. ;)

One of the best pieces of advice from my mom (and there has been lots of great advice!) was that she always thought about WHY she was saying no. What was my reason? Is it for safety? Then absolutely. Is it because I just don’t want to read that book for the fifteenth time? Not worth it. And to make sure that I had a good reason for any “No” I dole out.

Doing that has also made me more aware of how I say no. For example – in the bathtub, which was a tough one for us, too, we say “You need to sit in the bath!” Or “Sit down, please! We sit in the bath!” As opposed to “You can’t stand” because it just sounded better, less of a negative.

Or an alternative – “Please don’t throw the book, you may go choose a ball to throw.”

But, yeah, we had to give up on the food one, we invested in a shop vac. ;) He is better about it now, though, that he has more words. He’ll push something away and say “No, mama” or say “All done” and we usually have a minute or two before he gets bored and starts putting things on the floor.

Your little girl is so adorable!!

Sherry on

Yeah…this is a cute concept and all but if I say no fifteen times a day, the answer is no all fifteen times. I’m not worried about getting tired of saying it, I’m getting my point across and quite frankly, repetition is key. I’m a mom of three and old school. Sorry.

Nichole on

#4.. My last by the way has been completely left field from the other 3. She has her own agenda, does things her own way. Her way or the highway. She will be 17 months old, terrible twos have been on “beast” mode since she turned a year old. I’m still nursing her, but have tried to give her whole milk, she refuses. I’ve tried every kind of milk in every kind of temperature and its still a violent shake of the head while chucking her sippy cup as far as she can.

Elias on

My my, people are so fast to judge others! Leave Virginia alone- you aren’t there and shouldn’t judge. I didn’t see her telling the rest of you you’re too soft on your kids.

Moms should stick together and learn all the facts before judging.

*deep breath* Thanks for the cute articles, Marla! I love hearing about other moms struggles, since I have the same. I know that I’m not alone but it still helps to read it every once in a while!

KaleRae on

We’ve tried to turn our No’s into more what you do do….e.g. If my son throws his food on the floor, instead of saying No….I say “We keep our food on the tray or in our mouths…thank you”. If he throws a toy inside, instead of saying “no throwing”, I take the toy/ball and say “We only throw balls outside, thank you”…..and when he stands in the tub, instead of saying “no”, I say “we stay on our bums in the tub, thank you…”…I mean, I am saying “no” to the behaviour, but I am trying not to use the word “no” so much, and instead enforce the correct behaviour.

Melissa on

You’re doing a great job! We handle our no’s in a similar fashion. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t, but we’re trying our best! My lo is one month older than your daughter and she tends to laugh when I say no. Not sure where to go with that one. Your daughter will love reading these blogs when she’s older! Keep up the good work momma!

Valisa on

Ok, I love to hear what other moms have to say about being a mom…but what makes celeb moms so special? I want to hear about the “real” mom who has to stay up all night with a new born and then try to function at a 40 hour a week job and do all the household things that need to be done. I want to hear about the “real” mom problems and solutions. I want to hear about trying to balance being a “new” mom, a wife, a maid, a milk dispencer, a taxi, a nurse, a chef…and getting about 3 hours of sleep a night( if you are lucky). I want to hear about how you smell like baby puke for like ever… how you wish you had time to go to the gym to get skinny you back but would rather sit by yourself with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine (probably in a dark closet so no one will find you for 3 seconds). don’t get me wrong … I LOVE being a Mom!!!! I wouldn’t change anything. But c’mon who wants to hear a first time celeb mom talk about mommy and me classes and saying no? not me.

Anonymous on

My daughter’s also 15 months and her tantrums started around 11 lol. So yes, I know what you mean, and we’re fighting the same battles. Hang in there Mama! You’re doing a great job!

daisy on

my parents theory is that “no” starts the moment you bring baby home – they’re both lovely fun people, but you knew no was no, it was said ONCE and not in a conversational way but in a firm no-nonsense staccato NO. If you whined then it was “no” to this cookie or lollipop and “no” the next time too! it sounds harsh but it wasn’t – you just knew the rules – no was no. it also meant we didn’t whine and my mother swears we never had a tantrum – we weren’t exceptional kids, it was just so much easier to be good! we tease my father that there is a sound – sort of a clipped `oh-oh’ – that he used to make when we were doing something wrong, to this day when i hear it i FREEZE in my tracks! i also used the sound to train my dog, and she responds perfectly. :)

Angelica on

I agree in consequences and I’m not against spanking, but in my opinion only, spanking a child each time is just unneeded. Spankings should be reserved for the extremely big No No’s and not for simple ones. If a child can’t learn to listen to you without having to be physical, what do you think you’ll be doing when they are teenagers and a simple swat won’t work? I also disagree in hitting a baby/toddler Elliot’s age anyways. I’m not speaking without experience either, my husband and I have a 13mo old daughter,and sons who are 8 &15 (it’s a 7yr itch LOL). My children aren’t perfect and I have spanked my older children when a situation arised that called for it. Fortunately I can count those situations on 1 hand and be happy they understand when I mean NO I mean NO. They have had unhappy consequences when they didn’t listen, but it was more that they lost a privilege or a toy then were hit. I also believe the sting of being hit goes quickly and with that goes the effect of the unpleasantness of the consequence. A few hours without a favorite toy or cell phone or a delayed jaunt outside lasts much longer in their memories and may remain the next time they go to repeat the behavior.

Erin on

Your little girl is adorable. As a mom of three I can say no child is the same. We made different game plans for each. You are dead on for choosing your “no’s” aka picking your battles. Each one of our kids had their specific needs and limits. There is no blueprint for a child’s upbringing. Feel your way through. Keep being an amazing mommy. And by the way….I gotta tell ya…3 is where we really hit the terribles. They are smarter, faster and stronger…and you will still cherish every minute. I have to sadly add the obvious based on some previous comments. You do not need to physically discipline your children….. ever. Love your blog momma! Keep em comin!

Erin on

To clarify- by saying you do not need to “physically discipline” I mean you do not need to inflict physical pain to your child in order to gain their obediance. That is lazy and pathetic parenting. And I bet if you disagreed someone could inflict pain on you until you agreed. Sound familiar? Enjoy her blogs. They kick butt. If you want to give instructions on how to spank or pop or flick your babies in their face….find another platform. Marla, love your blogs! You are an amazing mom. Keep it up please.

Amanda K on

We are going through this in our household right now with my 15-month-old! I wasn’t prepared to have to say “No” so often at this age, and thought it would be a good 7 more months before the tantrums and – in our case – the rapid head-shaking, emphatic “Nos!” she gives us would appear. So good to know we are not the only new family experiencing this! I try the fine art of distraction when she starts to pitch a fit about not being able to go outside, or having her diaper changed, or being told not to eat the rock/cat food/anything on the floor…..but I’m wondering how long that will hold up! It’s already wearing thin as she gets smarter and smarter everyday. But I wouldn’t change anything for a minute! She is learning and growing and realizing she is her own little person, and I could just kiss her every second of every day, tantrums or not!

Amber on

I don’t have children yet, but as a child raised with the occasional spanking, I think as long as its not overused/abused– it is a very effective method to discipline children. My parents spanked us maybe 5 times when I was growing up for serious offenses and I learned my lesson quickly. People are so afraid to spank children nowadays and this has led to a lot of spoiled, rotten children running around with no real parental respect or consideration for others.

Don't throw broccoli! on

Who knew food being thrown would be such a button pusher. Drives me crazy. I read and started using the idea of telling my 13mos old to put the food she doesn’t like in the cup holder of the tray. Works about half the time. She seems to throw food when I am not with her (like getting something in the kitchen..) and uses it to get attention. I don’t respond when she does that and pick it up at the end of the meal. I too can relate to the standing up in the bathtub habit…they should make a giant foam bathtub insert. :)

Erin on

“I don’t have children yet” thank you for being honest but until you are a parent, it is tough to have proper prespective. Children can be raised to be amazing, well behaved little ones without being physically punished. I’m three deep and they are good to go. “Bad” children don’t exist. Unfortunately, poor parenting does and always will.

LaydeeL on

I am right there with ya. Come talk to me and give me parenting advice when you really have to parent like the rest of us. What is alone time? 4 years and two kids later, I have completely forgotten what it is like

Amy on

I personally do not see what is wrong with a little tap on the bottom. After all the toddler is still in diapers – so it’s more of a symbolic act, really.

Jocelyn on

My mom flicked me a few times growing up. We also got spanked several times over the years too. I’m 25 now guys and I’m just fine! I was not being “abused,” I don’t hate my parents, I’m a law-abiding citizen with a bachelors degree…if you don’t want to spank your child, don’t. But there is a HUGE difference between beating your child and swatting him on the butt once in a blue moon. Finally, as Virginia’s children, my sisters and me were VERY well behaved in public and my parents very rarely had to spank us twice for the same thing. Spankings happened maybe once every few months for major offenses. Why are moms so hateful to other moms anyhow?

tina on

Interesting how generations who turned out to be well rounded, productive adults, think they need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to child rearing. “I’ve become my mom!” like it’s a bad thing.

Time will tell if you needed to fix something that wasn’t broken . . .

Karen on

My kids were both easy toddlers. No tantrums, no difficult behavior. So I tended to be not the world’s most consistent or firm mom, because I didn’t need to be. Now it’s coming back to bite me. My easy going son has become a challenging pre-teen and my easy-breezy daughter is quite the dramatic 7-year-old. So your work now to become a taken-seriously mom will pay dividends in the future!

As for not saying no too much … eh. I think this is a bit of the over-thinking mom psychology that surrounds us these days, While I agree that you need to be careful of saying no to everything (my son sometimes says that he can’t do ANYTHING right and we’re ALWAYS mad at him – so I’m trying to monitor my approach better), nevertheless a kid hearing “No – don’t do that” is not psyche hearing. They are going to hear no a lot as an adult, they’ll learn to cope with it. In general, I find a good one-line reprimand the most effective. “We do not touch the dog’s food.” or “Sit down in the tub.”

Anonymous on

Kids are pretty smart and instead of saying No all the time I tell my kids what I expect of them before we do something or even sit down at a meal and that included throwing food on the floor and this is what would happen if they did not listen. They get it – you just have to follow through and they will get that mommy or daddy means business

Momof1 on

What works for one child is not going to work for all. Much of the discipline decisions need to take into consideration the individual child. My little boy, whom I adore, needs nos. he is wild and willful, and honestly, there is no way I can guide him right now because he doesn’t understand enough — but he gets no.

Tabitha on

I used to tell my daughter when she started her dog food eating phase was “if you eat all the doggie food, she won’t have any to eat for herself”. She would say “doggie no food? doggie hungry?” I would say “yes”, and then she would actually take a handful of dog food bring it over to our dog and place it on the floor in front of her and say “eat”. It was very sweet and she stopped eating the dog’s food and instead started feeding the dog her food!

Anonymous on

I think parents tend to overanalyze everything – just go with what works for you and the kids.

Stacey on

“smh”, I sure we would all gather that Virginia’s kids are super well behaved without her even mentioning it. Would you like to be flicked in the face every time you did or said something that someone didn’t agree with???? Flicking a child in the face is not an emotionally healthy way to discipline a child. PERIOD.

Jenny on

We personally discipline our children by taking away privileges but they are older than toddlers now. I honestly cannot remember how I always disciplined when they were that young, they did have quiet time and then we would talk about it (keeping it short & sweet). But I also know the biggest thing is to be positive…I have seen a couple of other people say it too :) Instead of saying “no don’t throw your food”, say “food belongs on your plate, it stays on here (and point)” or instead of saying “no eating the dogs food” saying “that’s for the doggie, your food is on your plate, doggie food is yucky for you” and of course safety things like the bathtub “we sit in the bathtub, if you stand you can get hurt” and always when they listen “you did a good job keeping your food on your plate, or sitting in the tub”. :) My kids are no angels but they understand boundaries & we explain most of the time why they cant do something. You are doing a great job!! And to all you other moms: Good job!!! Being a mommy is sometimes hard work, but its the best “job” ever :)

littlebirdiewithoutwings on

I am having the same issue with my 13 month old. It seems like I am the ONLY mom in our mommy group that has to chase her kid around everywhere. Each place people ask how old he is and then gasp when they find out how young. Its always followed by “Wow! He is REALLY active for his age”. In our house “NO” is a very common word. No to electrical outlets where things are plugged in. No, you cannot touch the fan. No, dont eat the dogs food (very common). No, you may not play with the lazy susan cabinet that mommy cant find a way to lock. No, you cannot pull things out of the trash can. No, you cannot LICK the trash can. No, you cannot abuse your poor dog. Etc, etc, etc.

I try to calm myself for the other things that arent dangerous, disgusting, or a complete NO. Things like dumping all of his toys to get a reaction, pulling all of the folded clothes off of the bed while I put them away, littering his floor with every book he owns, whipping the sliding glass door blinds in every direction, etc. Those are the moments I have to set back and say “who is he really hurting?” and leave it be. Picking my battles has been one of the hardest things to do as a parent thus far.

TG on

Every parent is different, and we really shouldn’t judge others. However you choose to discipline your child is your choice. If you think talking it out with your child works for you, then great, go for it! If a parent chooses to spank their child, there is nothing wrong with that either. There is a difference between spanking and beating/abusing, we all know that. My parents spanked us and it worked and we did not feel abused. We didn’t grow up feeling like we had a bad childhood. Spanking (not beating ) is not a bad thing, so please don’t make others try and feel bad about it. I know this world is different than the world our parents lived in, doesn’t mean the “old ways” wont still work.

deb on

No, and especially this “no, and meaning it”- is over-rated in parenting. I raised 3 perfect children and rarely said NO. Try redirecting attention, accentuating the positive, and explaining why something doesn’t work very well…rather than the N-word.

Melissa Johnson on

I am a Mom of 18 and 15 year children. Way back when, I choose not to say “NO” to my children unless it was an emergency like they were going to get burned, crushed and the like. I however did not choose to distract or ignore, instead I changed the word and then told my children why or the outcome of what would happen. Kind of like action-reaction. Children do things to get a reaction so this works well. I would use the sound “ah ah ahhh” and then tell them “hurts the baby” then tell them why, like “hot” or “yucky” or ” be nice” or “easy”. Then I would physically show them what these adjectives were like and example. This worked great for me and my children and my children never told me “NO” and they totally had an understanding of the situations. I love the don’t say no concept. kuddos and was so happy to see this on Good Morning America!

azhlynne on

Marla, you are totally missing what a parent’s job is all about. It isn’t about YOU. It isn’t about YOU feeling like the bad guy. Guilt parenting is not healthy parenting. Your job as a parent is to prepare your child to live a productive and healthy adult life in society. By refusing to tell your child “No”, you are not preparing your daughter to live in the real world. On your blog you are already complaining about the “terrible twos” coming early. Well maybe if you actually taught your daughter “No” she would be less likely to throw a tantrum when things aren’t going her way. This is just a taste of things to come, BTW. How hard do you think it is going to be for a child not used to being denied to function in school? All you are doing is raising yet one more entitled, selfish person who will think the world is supposed to revolve around her. This is not healthy and it is not good parenting. If you have issues with setting limits and saying “No” then you need some counseling. Don’t set your daughter up for a life of frustration and anger just because you can’t deal with your guilt. You are not supposed to be your child’s buddy. You are supposed to be her parent.

Emily on

As a infant-toddler teacher (I have 10 one year olds), this is my class every day.
We have certain NOs – all related to how we relate to other kids and safety…. but it is always followed by a positive.
EX – No hitting, we use gentle touches
EX – NO climbing on the table, feet stay on the floor/if you want to climb do it in the pit

The way I explain it to parents is this.
No hitting = Don’t think about the purple elephant.
If I tell you don’t think about the purple elephant, what is the first thing that pops into your head – a purple elephant. Your child may not have been thinking about hitting at all, they may have been thinking – ‘lemme get that toy!” or “hey, pay attention!” but now by saying “no hitting” the only thing you’ve done is HIT into their heads.
So… if instead, you say “Gentle touches” all you are doing is saying “Yes, I notice you, here is what I want you to do.” You aren’t introducing an inappropriate action into their heads.

So yes, we do use “NO!” for immediate use and to state there are wrong things, but for the majority, it’s all redirect and positive guidance.

It works for me and my classroom. Until August when I get a whole new set of kiddos and try to figure out what works for them!

Stacey on

Thank you! My father has always let my 8 year old niece do whatever she wants (she can do NO wrong) and then wonders why she doesn’t listen to him and why the rest of us don’t want to be around her or the 2 of them when they are together. HE thinks WE are wrong when we tell him, NO you don’t giver her ice cream at 8 am; NO you don’t let her pick at her dinner and then giver her ice cream; NO, when you tell her to do something, you don’t start begging, pleading, saying you will call her mother and not giving her a consequence; I could go on and on.

shana on

Our now 18 yr old had a issue with keeping feet on the floor and booty in the seat as a toddler. His clothes staying on were also a real issue. We worried we would have to visit a nudist colony to see him as a adult. Fortunately we made it thru the beautiful craziness.

Be their parent, protector, guide but always remember they are learning just like you.

Be firm and consistent with whatever message you choose. That has worked for us and continues to work for us as we prepare to send him off to college to learn to be a school teacher. Who new two people could be lucky enough to shape a beautiful young man into (prayers daily for this) a strong man, husband, and his ultimate dream of being a parent like the ones he has.

So blessed and lucky.

Enjoy every day and minute…… it is gone too fast.

Jenny on

Virginia, I hope there comes a day when your children are big enough to beat you down with a rod. You are one of the worst parents I have ever heard of and can’t fathom why you were allowed to have children. Absolutely disgusting. You should be ashamed of yourself. Your poor children.

NoAdditives on

The constant behavior correction sucks, especially when you feel like it’s the only way you’re interacting with your child. But. In the long run, it pays off. A child will only be well behaved if they understand what is allowed (and what is not) and what is expected of them. Giving the child, even young ones, the reasoning behind the rules is more effective than just saying no.

I’m about to have my fourth child in five years. My kids, 17 months to 4 1/2 years, are all very well behaved because I corrected their behavior from the time they could crawl. I hate feeling like I’m hovering over them, especially at other people’s houses, but how else are they going to learn?

anon on

@Stacey, are you really, seriously, comparing Virginia to Hitler? You’re insane.

Alisha on

A rod ? Really Virginia ? It’s one thing to swat a child with your hand. It’s a whole other thing to use an object. Here where I live CPS would be knocking on your door and rightfully so. One of these days she’s gonna pick the rod up and hit you back.

imbetts on

To all you young moms, remember that these days child rearing ‘advice’ changes from day to day pretty much. There is nothing wrong with backing up a no with a little swat. One of you used the word God in your post but you forget that it is He who gave the counsel …(Proverbs 12:1) ..A lover of discipline is a lover of knowledge, but a hater of reproof is unreasoning..

(Proverbs 13:24) 24 The one holding back his rod is hating his son, but the one loving him is he that does look for him with discipline.

Discipline can take many forms, talking, or at times spanking. Not beating!!! Since we have gotten away from God many people don’t know what the right thing to do is for their children, you just have to look at all the different types of human advice here to see that.

We were spanked as kids and it didn’t ruin us. Why do you people associate spanking as discipline as abuse? As long as it is appropriate to the situation there is nothing wrong with spanking. It really is true that as people got the ‘advice’ not to spank that they started being friends with their kids instead of parent’s. Our kids have to get used to hearing the word ‘no’, it is just a part of life. Society is breaking down with parents listening to advice that changes so often it makes your head spin. Go back to basics…..

Stop putting friendship with your kids ahead of parenting. I agree completely that kids today are more out of hand because they don’t hear the word ‘NO’ and are not made to listen.

Vanessa on

That coat. I’m dying! Makes her even cuter.

Alyssa on

I cannot believe how alike our daughters look!!

Anonymous on

My daughter Alaina went through a big “No” phase when she was about that age. She told me no about EVERYTHING! The good news is that has mostly gone away now…she just turned 2. But of course the terrible twos are hitting our household and instead of saying no to everything she skips straight to the full on screaming tantrum when she doesn’t like something. I guess we just have to wait out all of these crazy phases and do the best we can! Good luck…she is a cutie which is probably helpful to her when she is throwing these crazy fits!

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