Understanding that ‘no’ plus an object is an early negative


Why is this important?

Children use negatives to describe the ‘absence’ or non-existence of
an object (e.g. a child finishes his/her drink and says ‘no juice’). Before
children learn to use ‘no’ in two-word phrases, they must first be able to
understand these structures and to use them appropriately.

What to do

  • Gather together two favourite toys (e.g. cat, puppy, doll, Spiderman).
  • Use just two toys to begin with.
  • From a store of everyday objects, choose a few (e.g. ball, cup, hat, socks).
  • Give an object to one of the toys (e.g. put the hat on the cat’s head).
  • Ask ‘Who’s got no hat on?’
  • Encourage the child to point to the toy without the object.
  • If the child points to the toy wearing the hat, say ‘Teddy’s got a hat, who’s got no hat?’
  • If this continues to prove difficult, prompt by guiding the child’s hand towards the right response and reinforce it with ‘Look, teddy’s got no hat on’.