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Just Say No (And Mean It)

by Michele | February 3rd, 2016 | Behavior, Elementary

no_imageWhen I was a child (in the dark ages), if I asked for something and the answer was no, it was just that. There was no discussion; that simply was the answer. Although I didn’t necessarily like receiving a negative reply, I accepted it as is.

When I had children, I tweaked this parenting strategy a bit. A negative reply from me did not mean that my children should ask again later to see if the answer had changed, but they could ask me to explain why the answer was no. Although I don’t think as a parent that I need to agree to everything my children request, I do think they deserve to understand why something can’t happen.

This parenting strategy worked well with my children, as there were very few occasions (less than can be counted on one hand) in which my children would ask repeatedly (AKA whine) for something. Unfortunately, as a former teacher and as a general observer, I have met many, many children that obviously are allowed to ask again. And again. And again.

There are problems with not having a firm no. These children have difficulty accepting limits. They don’t respond well to things not always going their way. While you, as the parent, may be able to grant all of your child’s wishes, certainly the rest of the world can’t. Whether it is in the classroom, on the athletic fields, at a job, or somewhere else, your child will be told no, and no amount of whining will change that.

So, how do you get your child to accept no as the answer?

  • Begin when your child is young. Even toddlers should hear no.
  • When the answer needs to be no, be firm (not angry) while replying.
  • Allow your child to ask why (unless it is a dangerous situation) and explain to him why this can’t/won’t happen.
  • Give your child space to be sad or disappointed. If your child throws a tantrum, escort him to his bedroom so he can have space and privacy.
  • Do not change your answer. You have decided the answer is no, stick to it.

Some days it may feel like you need to say no more often than yes. Try to find a way to slip a yes into your lexicon. When your child has been told no to watching tv and playing on the computer, see if it is possible to say yes to a small snack or quick board game later in the day.

None of us enjoys being told no, but it is a valuable life lesson. You don’t want your child to be the coworker who complains when things don’t go her way. You can help by teaching your child how to accept a negative answer in the proper way.

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