TikTokker Shows Us That for Every 'No' There's a Hidden 'Yes' When Redirecting Kids
The word "no" is a big part of any parent's vocabulary. "No headbutting your brother."
"No—don't put mommy's phone in the toilet."
"No throwing Cheerios in my coffee! Good aim though."
As a mom of five, I often feel like a broken record, with a failed track record of getting my young kiddos to listen to me. That's why a TikTok mom who shares content about how to reframe "no" really caught my attention. Her name is Lauren Mejia, and she subscribes to a Montessori approach to parenting.
One recent video asks, "Toddler not listening?" And then, instead of saying "no" to behavior she doesn't want to encourage, Mejia suggests finding the "yes." For instance, when her toddler throws food at the table, redirect the pea and carrot toss to a "no thank you bowl." When your child begs for a toy at Target, how about taking a picture, so you can remember the idea for an upcoming birthday?
Likewise, Mejia recommends rather than saying "no" to putting something in their mouth, instruct your child to place the errant object in a bottle. Why the emphasis on "no" avoidance? As this mom explains in another recent TikTok, it's wise to save this word for when you really need it—like when your child is about to run into traffic or touch a hot stove.
Parents flooded the comments section of Mejia's TikTok about redirecting behavior to thank her for the lifesaving tips. She underscored in one response why this tactic helps kids, "Yes they love to feel like they're in control." As many parents noted, telling kids what they can do instead of what they can't do is a very winning strategy.
It's a great form of distraction in my experience, like when you're stuck in the car with kids and they're complaining. Telling my sons to stop kicking my seat and whining goes nowhere. Asking them to tell me about all the trucks they see on the road buys some serious time, though.
While countless parents piled on with gratitude for Mejia's tips, it's important to point out that many were also not fans of the idea, with some caregivers noting that kids need to hear "no" since it happens a lot in life. As in, no you can't just put a speeding ticket in a "no thank you bowl."
Even if finding the "yes" doesn't work well for your child—because not every parenting tactic will hit the mark with every little one—Mejia offers tons of redirection suggestions on her TikTok. For instance, I find myself following my son around at the playground reminding him to be careful like some kind of robot on repeat. In my defense, he fell recently on a slide and split his lip open, scaring the you-know-what out of me.
But this Montessori mom suggests asking a child what they plan to do next in this situation. You could say something like, "How about sitting down on the slide?" Then mutter under your breath, "Instead of diving head first down the slide and giving your mother a heart attack."
Of course, that last part is optional.