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I am the good cop at home when it comes to our 18 month old daughter. Today, I tried to tell her "no, you can't walk with that bottle" because she already broke twice and this is the third one, but she immediately started crying her heart out (reference to Oasis by the way). I never yell at her, I never hit her or anything but she starts crying when I tell her "no". How should I handle this situation? I must add that she is quite fond of me (the father).

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I've always found a distraction better than a "no" for a very young child. Should she have the bottle, just not in motion? Find a way to encourage her to drink from it in an appropriate place. Is she done with the bottle and it needs to be taken away? Find a favorite toy or favorite food or something else that she likes, and just spirit the bottle away once her attention is off it. If she refuses to give the bottle up without a fight offer to trade her for something she likes (food, probably). When my daughter was that age she was very into making "deals".

Once they get older you can start "laying down the law" and teaching lessons about obedience, but she's too young yet to being making a big fuss over it.

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If you telling her "no" in this context was inconsistent with the usual rules, then I would try to explain to her (as much as is possible to an 18 mo old) why you said "no." That is unless based on previous rules you should have said "yes" in which case, I would explain to her that you made a mistake and make up for it.

If the "no" was consistent with already established rules, then her crying is both normal and an important part of her learning the world around her. Toddlers will always want to be given everything they ask for and allowed to do anything they want to do. Teaching them that the world doesn't work that way earlier rather than later is the best possible preparation for life you can give them.

As for what you do about the crying, that depends on the child. My daughter who is a natural born communicator was almost always consoled by explanation even when it was clear she didn't understand it fully. My son who is definitely not a natural born communicator would only be aggravated by any attempts at consolation, and so the best thing for him was to just walk away and let him find his own calm.

  • At this point, I must try harder. Because when I say "no" something about it and the mother says "it's okay", I tend to say "yes" too. I must change this behaviour I think. What's your opinion? – Tolga Ozses May 14 '15 at 20:04
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    @Kartagis: No, you two parents must decide about the rules, then both stick to them. Children crave consistency (not to be confused with rigidity, though). One important principle at our house is that if one parent makes a decision, the other shall not overrule. – Stephie May 14 '15 at 20:20
  • @Stephie, I like that! I suppose this might be easier to implement if the parent who has been getting overruled checks in quickly with the other parent before acting or issuing an edit. "Let's check with Mama about that, I'm not so sure that's really an approved behavior" has a graceful way out one way or the other! – aparente001 May 31 '15 at 5:50

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