At what age does a child understand “no”?

I received an email from a local Momee Friend in need of Momee advice:

My daughter is 2 years old and my husband and I feel we constantly say the word “no”. We feel like our daughter looks at us like we have ten heads when we say no, she then laughs (as if it is a game ) and continues to do what we said no to. My daughter gets into everything and that is expected at her age and my mother tells me, “oh it’s those terrible twos” and she will grow out of it. But, my husband and I want to know at what age do kids start to understand the word “no” and should we be giving our daughter time outs or doing something else to signify that what she is doing is not allowed.

 Can any of you other Momees relate to this situation?

Please reply with any advice you may have…

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My name is Anne and I am a local mommy blogger ... Momee Friends is all about Long Island and all things local with the focus on family

8 thoughts on “At what age does a child understand “no”?

  1. I can totally relate to you and your issue with your daughter. My daughter is 21 months old and when I yell at her and tell her no I feel like she thinks we are playing a game too and she continues doing it and smiles at me as she is doing it. I would love to see the feedback we get with this question… thank you for asking! Come on Momee friends and help us out ; )

  2. Good question,my son is 16 months old and he repeatively does things we say no to everyday and he laughs and thinks its a game as well, I loose my voice saying no,and my husband and I have done several things so he wouldn’t do it again and we wake up the next day and its the same thing,I don’t think he understands yet,maybe around 3 I feel just from previous experience as a daycare teacher….

  3. My Momee Friend Rachel responded on my facebook page to this question:

    “I think they comprehend around 1. If i tell my 13 mo old no he knows to stop what hes doing and shakes his head no. My almost 3 yr old (late june) absolutely knows no. She is quite defiant if she disagrees with our “no” and will have a tantrum. I’m hoping it’ll pass soon”

  4. My Momee friend Kim responded as well on my facebook page with:

    “I think they comprehend no around 1, but they continue to test and do and laugh everytime we say it bc they are checking if its no today also, and if its no with every person caring for them. I think thats why its so important to be consistent (and frustrating!!), to say no everytime they do wrong. The one time you give up and dont say no then they win, they get to do wrong.”

  5. From another Momme Friend on my facebook page she responded:
    “From a developmental standpoint, children understand the word “no” and other simple directives starting at 8-12 months. Being consistent and following through on the parents’ end is the most important part of making sure the child truly understands the directive. If you say “no” but still give in, the baby learns that “no” means “keep going till I get what I want”. Its all about the consistency”

  6. My advice is be consistent. They may not understand just yet but if you continue to follow the same rules they will pick it up. I think re directing is your best solution at this age. I think time outs are not really worth it if they don’t know why they are sitting in that spot. How ever redirecting them and explaining what your doing it and why is good for any age group.

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