6 Ways to Navigate Your Preschoolers’ “No” and “Mine” Stage

Two-year-old Emma puts down a stacking toy and turns around to pick up a foam ball. When Nathan picks up the stacking toy a minute later, Emma grabs it back and says defiantly, “Mine!”

In the time between 18–24 months old, preschoolers begin going through this stage when you will hear their adamant statements of “Mine” and “No.” We typically think of this stage as part of social development, but it also shows there are milestones being made in the preschooler’s mental development.

During this time the preschooler begins to gain independence and is able to do more physically as he gains control of his body (running, climbing, potty training). He also asserts his independence mentally as he realizes he is a separate person from his parents or other caregivers. Those statements of “No” are his way of showing his desire to think for himself.

All of these areas of development work together: physical, mental, and social development. Emotional development is involved as preschoolers navigate through their mixtures of feelings. Spiritual development also takes place as this stage.

In order for a person to come to faith in Christ, they have to acknowledge that their own sin is what separates them from God. They cannot rely on the faith of their parents or anyone else to reconcile them to God. They must make their own decision to repent and follow Christ. A toddler to 2-year-old is not able to make this decision, but this is the stage when the brain begins making these mental connections.

Toddlers and twos are having the first realization that they are their own person. Many times they use “No” to exert their new found independence. Their use of “Mine” shows that they are beginning to go from egocentric thinking that the world revolves around me, to the realization that there are other people around them.


Tips to help your ones and twos who are in the “No” and “Mine” stage:

  • Remain calm yourself. Preschoolers at this age are easily frustrated because they do not always have control over themselves. Help them to see that you will remain calm.
  • Give simple choices. This helps them have opportunities to have some control over their own self. Offer choices such as, “Do you want to put together the animals puzzle or the butterfly puzzle?”
  • Help preschoolers with the words to say. Younger preschoolers do not yet have the vocabulary to communicate their needs to others. Remind them to ask, “My turn now?” when they want a toy with which another child is playing.
  • Allow time for preschoolers to do tasks to help in the classroom. A preschooler may take longer to stack blocks on the shelf. Give him the time needed to help.
  • Model what to do. Give preschoolers an example to imitate, whether in cleaning up the room or sharing a toy with another. Model appropriate behaviors for preschoolers to imitate.
  • Use Bible thoughts such as Help one another (see Gal. 5:13) and We work together (see 1 Cor. 3:9).



Back to Top