Saying no is never easy. As a Mum of two, aged 11 and 8, there have been many times when I have wanted to, and meant to, say no, but just gave in to their request instead! Kids learn very quickly the power of “pestering”, and will quickly employ it to get what they want. My Proven Tips on How to Say No to your Child, have been learned over time(the hard way), and may just make it easier for you and your kids, the next time you’re faced with saying “No”.
#1. Set limits & Stick to Them
Often easier said than done when you have a child in meltdown but if you ‘give in’ on a regular basis, your child will learn that by being disruptive, or pleading, they will get what they want in the end.
Children need boundaries and it’s up to us, as parents, to set those and do our best to adhere to them.
#2. Do What’s Right for your Family
Everyone will have an opinion but trust your instincts. You know what works best for you and your family so just because other parents do it differently does not make it right. Make a decision and stick to it.
#3. Pick your Battles
Consider what your child is requesting before you say no outright. Use your judgement and pick your battles – negotiation is a useful parenting tool and a great art to teach your child.
While you may not agree with everything your child is requesting, sometimes you can negotiate a compromise that you can both agree on.
However, if you have already said no don’t be negotiated into a corner by your child and certainly don’t reward abusive behaviour by negotiating!
You may like 8 Top Tips for Positive Parenting
#3. Think about How you Respond
So before you respond, think about what you are trying to teach them and explain simply your reasons for saying no. Long explanations can often leave children feeling more frustrated and confused.
As your child grows show that you are listening to them and considering their request – positive debate is a good thing.
#4. Know when to Walk Away
Try to remain calm and simply explain to your child that their behaviour is not going to change the outcome and walk away(we know easier said than done lots of the time!). Take 5 minutes of you time. This is so much better than getting into a heated debate with your child, I assure you.
If you consistently stick to your limits your child will soon realise that badgering and pleading, shouting and crying will make no difference to the outcome in the end.
You may also like 25 Things Parents Should Not Do
#5. Stay Positive
Your child may be angry now, but they will calm down and the important lesson they need to learn is that nobody gets everything they want all the time.
#6. Don’t be Fooled
Don’t be fooled if after saying no your child suddenly does everything you ask and more, and then asks again for what they wanted in the first place. Or promises they will never, every behave that way again, if only you will say yes.
If you have said no and set your limit, thank them for the help or promise, but explain that it does not change the outcome of your decision.
#7. The Spiral Effect
Remember you are the adult and as such, your child looks to your behaviour to learn.
Try not to get so frustrated that you end up adding extra ‘no’s’ to the list that you will struggle to stick to. We have all done it – I have heard myself say “not only will you not get x but you also can’t do y”.
Threats made in the heat of the moment are sometimes hard to enforce and will end up causing more disruption and confusion. Try to remain calm and if you begin to feel frustrated, walk away.
#8. Be Reasonable
As children grow it is good to reward positive behaviour. By giving your child pocket money for helping with chores, or setting a budget for clothing or treats, you are empowering them to make reasonable choices without the need for ‘no’.
Teach them to save for what they want and don’t be tempted to always supplement what you give them to allow them to purchase something now!
#9. Alternative Responses
No is a powerful word with negative connotations. Often you can get the message across by using different language or sometimes by giving your child a certain look. Examples include; Let’s choose something else, Maybe another time, Stop please, That’s not suitable/ appropriate.
Removing your child from a situation can work too. If they are bored distract them by doing something different or use humour to turn the situation around.
Use no sparingly during your day, and it will be much more effective when you really need it.
#10. Once You’ve Said No, Move On!
Don’t dwell on it or drag up your child’s response to it later. Try to deflect the child with an activity once they have calmed down.
Over to you! Let us know the tips that work for you when saying no, in the comments below.