How to say NO to our children!
“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.”