“Do you want some cereal?” I asked as my son eyed my bowl of Crispix. “No.” He answered while grabbing a piece. His words and actions may seem contradictory, but are they?
Clearly, yes, he wanted the cereal, but that’s not what he was saying no to. To me, his “no” was, “No mom, I don’t need you to offer the cereal to me in order for me to want it. I just want it.” He was saying no to the offering, not the cereal itself.
Toddlers know what they want, and they’re more than willing to go for it. That’s why they can become territorial with toys, that’s why it is imperative that you look out for their safety (How about you walk around with a spoon in your hand instead of the fork?), and that’s why they tantrum – because they know what they want and are being kept from it! They want with (oftentimes reckless) abandon. There’s something to be said for being so clear on what you want. That’s the lesson that my toddler is teaching me.
I’d tell him to help himself, but there’s no point. He already is.