Negation is very critical to a child's ability to communicate. It is a very powerful concept to teach early on in language development. It is very empowering to the child by helping them learn to reject / deny and express their opinions and gives them control over their environment. It is easy to teach since children love to say "no" to many things. 

There are different types of Negation: 

  1. Rejection – "I do not want a carrot".
  2. Non-existence – "Mommy is not there, she's gone out"
  3. Prohibition – "Don’t (do not) touch, it is hot"
  4. Denial – "I did not eat your cake"
  5. Negative - "This is not a chair, it is a table."

How to teach Negation?

Introduce the picture of ‘NO’ and "NOT" and "dDON'T" on Avaz.


Rejection - NOT 

Start with NOT.

  • Look out for opportunities during the day when the child does not want to do an activity. If child is looking away, pushing things away or shaking their head, you can model the non-verbal communication with NOT. Say what you observe and model NOT.   "I see you pushing your food away. I think you do NOT want it.". 
  • Whenever your child rejects an object or activity, use the opportunity to teach the child NOT WANT. 
  • E.g.: "I see you closing your ears. I think you do NOT like the sound of the pressure-cooker. I will turn it off".  
  • Teach the concept by using the opportunity with the help of non-preferred objects and activities. 
  • Identify some of the non-preferred items / activities of your child. 
    • Senses / topicsNon-preferred items
      Taste - foode.g. soup, salad, specific vegetables or fruits, snacks, sweets etc., cold, hot etc.
      Hearing - Soundssounds that they don't like to hear - e.g. scratching a metallic surface, some musical instruments, sound of pressure cooker, etc.
      Touch cold water touching their feet, slightly warmer milk, etc.
      sticky substances (jelly) or slime.
      Smellstrong smelling foods - e.g. smell of coffee, smell of spices etc. 
      Sightwatching news, watching scary movies etc. 
      Clothesnon-favourite clothes etc. 
  • Offer the child's non-preferred item. When the child gestures by pushing away an object, you can say "Oh! you just pushed the carrot away. I think you do NOT want carrot! Ok I will give you something else." Use Avaz to tap NOT while speaking the sentence aloud. "I see you pushing the ice-cream away. It is colde  
  • During activity time, offer to play an activity that your child does not enjoy. E.g. Let's play Barbie! When the child reacts by pushing it away, you can say "Oh! you are keeping Barbie away. I think you do NOT want to play this?. Okay, let's play something else."  Use Avaz to tap NOT while speaking the sentence aloud. 
  • Many of us are not tolerant of certain specific sounds, more so children with sensory issues.  E.g. scratching on a metallic surface with your nail. Or playing an instrument that is not to their liking. Play the sound intentionally and when the child reacts with a show of rejection, say "I see that you are closing your ears.   I think you do NOT want that song to be played? Okay, I will stop it." while tapping the word NOT in Avaz. 
  • If the child doesn't use single word communication in Avaz, model the single word  - don't. 
  • If the child uses single words to communicate using Avaz, model two words - don't want.


  • Make sure you don't overdo by offering the child's non-favourite items or activities. It may end up annoying the child if you offer too much of what they don't like. 

Remember : Always model one word more than the child's current level of communication.

Negative: NO / NOT

Teach the concept of a negative by asking questions that have ‘no’ as an answer. 

E.g. Show a picture of a ball and ask "Is this a book?". Model "No this is not a book. This is a ball".

E.g. Show the picture of a ball and asking 'Is it a car?’. Model "No, this is not a car. This is a ball."

Click here to read more -  How to teach Yes-No concepts ?

Using Games

1. Treasure hunt 

  1. Pick the child's favourite item small enough to be hidden in the room - e.g. a scented soap
  2. Tell the child that you're going to hide it and he's got to find it. 
  3. Start looking for the item with your child



Teach the concept of DON'T while also teaching safety for the child. 

You can use some of the Avaz vocabulary related to Safety to teach prohibition. 

You can use these daily items in your house to teach prohibition as well as safety. 

ItemsHow to teach prohibition using DON'T
Knife / blade / scissorsDon't touch the knife. You will cut yourself.
Fire / lighter / gas stoveDon't come near fire. You can get a burn. 
hot waterDon't touch hot water, you can get a burn. 
climbing stairsDon't run up the stairs. You may fall. 
crossing the roadDon't run across the road. You can get hit.
Don't cross the road here. Cross on the white lines.


Denial means to refuse to agree onto something or satisfy a desire or request. 

Vocabulary in Avaz to convey rejection: no, stop, don’t want, not that, finished