Climbing Mt. No: Tips to Help Navigate this Very Important Two-Letter Word

Guest Authored By Emily P, M.S., CCC-SLP

At an early age, “no” is used as a quick and effective way to help children make safe choices and understand expected vs. unexcepted choices. For example, “no jumping on the bed,” or no throwing toys.” But, how do children with language and processing delays respond to these cues? 

Often, we will see them repeat that action we initially said “no” to, multiple times.  This can be frustrating for parents, caregivers, and teachers.  We’ve compiled these trail maps we can all use to help our children when we are tempted to use the word “no.”  

Model, Model, Model: Children with language processing delays often have difficulty understanding spoken language and what is being presented verballyThis can make following simple directions and language challenging, including the word “no.” Modeling an expectation is a way to communicate the idea of “no” while removing verbal processing demands.  It allows children to imitate the expected choice and reduces unexpected choices.  

  • Example: Saying nthrowing toys,” + modeling gently setting the toy down or other  safe/expected actions we can do with the toys. 
  • This example uses the concept of “ideation.” During early development, children are learning  this process of creating and generating ideas. This can be through watching others, playing, or  learning new experiences throughout childhood and within the environmentProviding ideas on  what to do plus using “no” can help your child follow directions.  

Language Choices: Using simple language of what they are expected to do instead of “no, can be helpful, as children benefit from clear cut directions.  

  • Example: “we need to use walking feet” or “let’s move our feet nice and slow.”  This varied  language can be helpful instead of “no running.”     
  • An extra step is to have them repeat the directions back to you! This can help them better  process the language that has been verbally presented.  

Choices: Providing choices for a child of what they can do. This is a great way to support our children if they are having difficulty understanding that “no” means “not an option.”   

  • Example: “we can read a book or play a game” as an alternative to “no tv right now.”     

Problem Solving: Problem solving through the word “no” can create an opportunity to reflect about why their action was unexpected or unsafe  

  • Example: what might happen if we climb on the table? “instead of “no climbing.” 

This can help them understand the cause and effect or impact of their actions.  This can also encourage them to follow directions.  

The idea of “no” and the effect it has is not only an important developmental milestone, but also a powerful concept that can be challenging for anyone to navigate. The above “trail maps” can support everyone involved when we are climbing Mt. “No” with our childrenHave questions? Want to learn more strategies? Reach out to your child’s speech therapist (SLP) or ask if speech therapy services are right for your child.

Eyas Landing is a therapy clinic with a mission to provide evidence-based and family-centered therapy services for children, adolescents, and their families. The primary goal is to deliver relationship-based interventions within the most natural environments and to empower families to reach their full potential. To achieve this goal, our highly educated, compassionate staff dedicates time and expertise to create experiences that maximize therapeutic outcomes. The strength, determination, and perseverance of our clients are evident as they succeed in therapy, and ultimately in their daily lives.

Eyas Landing offers a wide range of comprehensive services including Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, ABA Therapy, Social Work, Family Therapy, and Neuropsych testing. Services are provided throughout the Chicagoland area via Telehealth, In-Home, and in our state of the art clinic.

Want to learn more or you have a specific question? Feel free to connect with us here!