How to Say ‘No’—And Really Mean It


It just doesn’€™t make sense. You say, ‘€˜No’€™, and your kids act like you just fired a starting pistol for an Olympic race to ‘€˜YES!’€™. Why don’€™t they take no for an answer?
At Parenting Power, we have always said that kids are like little scientists, gathering all the data from their previous experiments and compiling the odds. For example, they be learning that ‘€˜4 out of 5 times, we can get mom to move to a maybe and then a yes as long as we add tears and whining.’€™ Here are 3 tips for getting your ‘€˜No’€™ to really stick.

How to Make Your ‘€˜No’€™ Really Stick:

  1. Decide that you will only say ‘€˜No’€™ when you mean it. This makes it easier for you to stick to your decision and your kids will learn that no means no.
  2. If your ‘€˜No’€™ is going to become a ‘€˜Yes’€™ or has that possibility, start with a ‘€˜maybe’€™, or even better, a ‘€˜Yes, when’€¦’€™. For example,
    Child: Mom, can I have a cookie?
    Mom: Yes, you can have a cookie when we are finished lunch. Do you want to choose that cookie now and set it aside for after lunch?
  3. Know how you will respond when your kids start the race to ‘€˜yes’€™.

    a. Acknowledge what they want and stay firm. Say:
    I know that you wanted to watch one more show. You really like that show. That’€™s all for tonight.

    b. Accept that they are not pleased and that they may show it. Say:
    Seems like you need to get your sad out by crying. That’€™s okay. You can do it here or in your room. Let me know when you are done.

Many parents feel like they can make their kids happy by giving in. The truth is, ‘€˜happy’€™ is an internal state. We can’€™t make our kids happy. When we say one thing and do another, we actually leave them confused and they will work harder, pushing and testing us next time to figure out if we are telling the truth this time.

The best way for us to teach our kids self-control, frustration tolerance and delayed-gratification (all indicators of a happy life as adults) is to say no and stick to it when we do.

Image of disobedient kids from Shutterstock.


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