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Creative Ways to Say "No" To A Child

March 9, 2016

Saying "no" to your child can be difficult. Sometimes we end up feeling like a broken record that says "no" all the time. Sometimes our kids just wear us down. Yet saying "no" is a necessary ingredient to help children grow and to be able to say "no" to sex, drugs and other dubious things we want our children to refuse when we are not present. Here are 19 variations of saying "no" to add to your parenting repertoire.


For younger children:
1. Give them an alternative. "Walls are not for coloring. Here is a piece of paper."
2.  Tell them what to do instead i.e., "Water needs to stay in the tub."
3. Use distraction.
4. For a youngster who has something you don't want her to have said, "That's not a toy. However, this is a toy you can play with."
 5. Sing, "no, no, no."
 6. Say it in a funny way, i.e. "Never in a million trillion years!"


For older children:

1.  "That's not an option."
2. "I am unwilling...."
3. "That's not appropriate."
4. "I am not ready for you to do that yet."
5. Ask, "What do you think you would need to do before I would be willing to say yes to that?"
6. Ask, "What do you think? Is this a good choice for you?" (If you choose to use this, make sure you are willing to abide by their answer.)
7. Ask, "What are your other options?"
8. "No,  but I would be willing to..."
9.  "I appreciate your asking, however..."
10. "This is not negotiable."
11. "Yes, as soon as (task) is done...."
12. "I'd love to, now's not an option, let's go put it on the calendar." 
13. Do the unexpected!  


Of course there are times when you should say, "no" and mean "no". At those times it is helpful to make direct eye contact with the child and in a firm and neutral tone of voice, say the word "no," ONCE. Some children do best with a brief reason why they are being told no. However, it is essential that this explanation is very short. Keep it short to avoid turning this into a lecture. Do not get into an argument. If you do, your child will learn that if he wears you down, you will give in.

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