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How to say NO to our children!

Updated on March 23, 2011

“No” is not a bad word.  It is not something horrible and earth shattering.  No one’s life will end simply because you say “no.”  The word “no” is a gift.  It is very easy to say no when you realize you will not be committing anyone to long term therapy because you said “no.”

When you tell someone, especially children, “no” you are setting limits. You are letting them know what is acceptable and what isn’t:

“No, you may not smoke.”

“No, you may not commit murder.”

“No, you cannot cheat, lie and/or steal.”

It doesn’t sound so bad when you think of it like that, does it?

How to say “no” to children first requires that you stop and think about what “no” means.  No is about teaching.  You are teaching your children what is and what isn’t acceptable.  No, they may not have every toy because money must be prioritized.  No, they may not have candy because it isn’t healthy.  No, you can’t play video games when you have homework to do.

When you do say no, say it calmly and firmly.  “No” isn’t a debate.  It isn’t a cue to throw a temper tantrum.  If temper tantrums do ensue because your child doesn’t often hear no, or gets what he or she wants when they start to cause a scene, do not back down.  No means no.

Sometimes we will say no before we think, so if you do change your mind, do so immediately.  But, first make sure you have established the pattern of not changing your mind first so your children find it a pleasant surprise. 

Whatever happens, do not turn “no” into an argument.  If your child asks for a reason, you may give a simple and quick reason.  Asking why isn’t necessarily unreasonable.  “No, you may not touch a hot stove because you will burn your arm.”  My favorite response when my children keep on is, “Asked and answered.”  They seem to catch on quickly that I will not keep coming up with new reasons or tolerate repeat requests to “But why?”

You will end up giving your child a gift.  Not only will clear boundaries be set and they will know the rules, but deep down they will know they are loved.  Then, as adults, they will never be put upon.  If they can’t do something, they will be able to say so upfront and not put themselves in a bind—and possibly the person they are supposed to be helping in a bind.  They will never feel shameful about saying “no.”

Remember: As a parent, it is not your job to be your child’s friend.  It is your job to parent.  Also, it isn’t the child who has a lot of things that people call spoiled rotten, but the child who never hears the word “no.” 



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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Daddy and I: An Evening At the Lake demonstrates the imonptarce of spending quality time with your child. As a parent, I appreciate the use of familiar, recognizable locations for the setting. And, I love that my 7 year old daughter was able to read the text independently. As an early childhood educator, I would definitely recommend Daddy and I: An evening At the Lake to anyone who is interested in being a positive role model to a child.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Now I'm like, well duh! Truly thuafknl for your help.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Joe, I always loved being a part of your VBS beuacse it wasn't a canned program. It came from your heart and the heart of your department and the truths that were current and relevant to the children of your particular congregation and outreach. And I know the millions of man-hours that it took/takes to put out what you did/do We are now in a smaller area and canned is what we do. . .it's not, by any means, a bad thing. But since it wasn't created by us , we are not in it. I know, with all my heart, that our leadership does everything possible to own the program and reach out to every single child. It's just different. It's not, as some people think, babysitting. I think children who go to many different programs do so beuacse they are hungry for the Word and it's there for them to receive in a setting outside Sunday morning. It's a chance for kids to invite their friends to their church when that friend already has a church home so can't attend normally. They like to show off their Church Home too! I know my kids go to have fun. . .and even though I always think why are they going? they know all this stuff I am constantly and continually amazed at what they hear, what they bring home. So. . .I let them attend as many as they want, as long as it fits into our family schedule. One of my children simply didn't want to go to one her other siblings were attending this year and that's o.k. too. The Spirit speaks to them just as clearly as to us. . .what can be exhilerating for one child can be overwhelming to another. That's why I'm glad there are different churches, different themes, and different nights/days to attend.1) I feel blessed to be in a church that has a VBS program and am glad that so many people volunteer that there are too many volunteers ha! And I'm happy that other people attend our program. . .whether or not they have another church home. SSBC has spent a lot of time and money on what we do it's great to share it with others!2) I use it as I would any other camp for my child I want to make sure they will be safe there, have fun, and come home with an experience they would not/could not have had in front of the television or playing in the yard.3) Our church and other local churches where my children have friends.4) 2-3

    • profile image

      Motherhood Trials 

      10 years ago

      It is true what you have said about saying no as adults,however the older you become the easier it seems to be. One day you realize that you are important to,even if you are the only one who seems to think so at the moment,you realize that you to "deserve" to have boundries laid as well. No one will set those boundries for you better than yourself. Just as a child functions better knowing their limits,we do to.The old saying..With age comes wisdom is quite true. What they do not tell you is ,With wisdom comes more stress and because of your Newly defined levels of concerns...comes the ability to say NO alot faster.

    • Lgali profile image


      10 years ago

      very nice hub good message

      As a parent, it is not your job to be your child’s friend. It is your job to parent. Also, it isn’t the child who has a lot of things that people call spoiled rotten, but the child who never hears the word “no.”

    • cindyvine profile image

      Cindy Vine 

      10 years ago from Cape Town

      I think, as adults, we also have problems saying NO at work, saying NO to buying on credit, saying NO to a friend that uses and abuses you. We just have serious problems generally using the word NO. Not just to our children.


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