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Say Yes to No

Updated on February 29, 2016
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Stephen Bush is the founder and CEO of AEX Commercial Financing Group. Steve obtained his MBA from UCLA and is a U.S. Navy veteran.

Yes or No? Say Yes to No
Yes or No? Say Yes to No

Saying Yes to No

I have emphasized the challenge of using "yes" and "no" more effectively in several other articles. But I felt that the importance of a recently-created parent education program called "Say Yes to No" (SYTN) easily justified a page of its own.

Parenting has never been easy, and the SYTN coalition of teachers and parents was formed to help with the growing challenge of saying "No" to children in positive and instructive ways. Say Yes to No started with a book written by Dr. David Walsh (featured below).

The Positive Value of No
The Positive Value of No

The Marshmallow Test Started it All

Self-Control, No and Success in Life Are All Related

Let me start by saying that I do not have any personal or business relationships with Say Yes to No. I have chosen to write about this topic because I think it is so important for children to have the best possible learning environment. Rarely have I encountered a more complicated problem that already has the makings of a feasible solution.

The Marshmallow Test was given to four-year old kids starting more than 40 years ago. It has turned out to be one of the most effective behavioral studies ever. Dr. David Walsh has drawn upon this test and other relevant data in his book about "No."

Doing What's Right
Doing What's Right
No: Why Kids--of All Ages--Need to Hear It and Ways Parents Can Say It
No: Why Kids--of All Ages--Need to Hear It and Ways Parents Can Say It

Dr. David Walsh has written what has become the basis for the "Say Yes to No" coalition efforts to help parents and teachers get over the difficulty of saying no to children. An extremely readable book that is about much more than saying no (although that would be enough). A common sense guide to help all of us with one of the most challenging parenting and learning issues. Dr. Walsh is featured in the first video below (only two minutes long).

Here are two comments about Say Yes to No and David Walsh's book.

"This is a really important book. This is an important conversation for us all to have, because at the heart of it, it is about raising healthy, self-reliant children, successful in school and in life."

(Joann Knuth, Executive director, Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals)

"A key message of Say Yes to No is that parents have a responsibility and the power to influence their children and help them make good decisions and set limits for them that are reasonable."

(Jody Ruggiero, School board member, founder and president of Tune In To Kids)


Why kids need to hear no and ways parents can say it

Saying Yes to No
Saying Yes to No

Say Yes to No Videos

In the first video (above), Dr. David Walsh talks about Say Yes to No and his book. The second video (below) describes the local efforts to build a broader coalition advancing the Say Yes to No strategies.

Dr. Walsh has nailed it. We parents have got to wake up and heed his call.

"One thing that Say Yes To No focuses on is making parents aware of the impact that the media and advertising has on our children. But it doesn't stop there. It takes it a step further and gives us the game plan of techniques and strategies that we can use in rearing our children to minimize the impact of those negative forces."

(Dr. James Wooten, Superintendent of Muscle Shoals City Schools, Muscle Shoals, Alabama)

The Importance of No
The Importance of No

More Expert Opinions about No

"A 'No' uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a 'Yes' merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble."

(Mahatma Gandhi)

"Learn to say 'no' to the good so you can say 'yes' to the best."

(John Maxwell)

The Power of a Positive No: Save The Deal Save The Relationship and Still Say No
The Power of a Positive No: Save The Deal Save The Relationship and Still Say No

The critical importance of learning how to use "No" more effectively is not just relevant to parenting. Improvements are needed throughout our society in this area. If you haven't done so already, I urge you to take a closer look at the work of William Ury. "The Power of a Positive No" is featured here, and it is directly relevant to "Say Yes to No." However, you will also find his other books to be equally helpful in solving communication problems.

William Ury knows from experience that when it is necessary to say no, it is critical to say no in the right way. If there is a "No Expert", William Ury is it.


No is perhaps the most important and powerful word. Saying No the right way is crucial.

A learning revolution as described by Sir Ken Robinson.

Yes and No
Yes and No
Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning: Insights from a Neurologist and Classroom Teacher
Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning: Insights from a Neurologist and Classroom Teacher

A remarkable book in which you will be able to understand how Dr. Judy Willis has brought all of the education pieces together and has sorted them out to help students. While seemingly written for teachers, this should also be read and enjoyed by parents and students.

The Long and the Short of It —

Keep it simple. Short and sweet. Simpler is better.

Abbreviations. Internet shorthand. 140 characters.

Three-word search phrases. One (very short) paragraph summaries for everything.

But are those approaches working when it comes to yes and no? Effective communicating and negotiating certainly require more than a two-letter or three-letter response. And usually more than 140 characters as well.

Keep it short. Make it quick.

The speed of life, business and technology seems to have made the long version of anything obsolete. The traditional "Show me your business plan" has increasingly been replaced by "Email me a one-page executive summary" or "Fill out our online application" or other phrases that generally imply less discussion and interaction. "Let's sit down and talk" is probably viewed as old-fashioned and a waste of time. But didn't old-fashioned talking typically involve a give-and-take atmosphere in which problems and misunderstandings were resolved on the spot?

Is a "Yes or No" world a good thing? Financial sectors like banking have quickly mutated into mere shells of what they formerly represented. "The New Banking World" is a conglomeration of exotic derivatives trading and investing that allows banks to regularly place their own interests above those of their customers. Once-respected banking institutions are now regularly referred to by less-than-respectful descriptions such as "Too Big to Fail" and "Too Big to Jail" instead of anything resembling old-fashioned, trustworthy and friendly bankers. With new banking services like paydays loans offering annualized returns of 300 percent or so (yes, not a typo, 300 percent), is it any wonder that small businesses and individuals find it increasingly difficult to obtain low-interest loans from banks?

Solutions? Possibilities? New ideas?

Whether we are talking about banks or other challenges, the "long answer" is almost always more likely to succeed than the "short answer" when it comes to conflict and disagreement. This will require more extended conversations involving communication, negotiation and collaboration. I don't want to appear biased, but I'm rooting for the long words.

Say Yes to No
Say Yes to No | Source

I’m so grateful for Dr. Dave’s new book “No” and the Say Yes to No initiative. The combination of scientific fact and warm wisdom and real life experiences, for me, it’s invaluable. Who would have thought such a tiny little word “no” could have such a huge impact on the overall success of my child’s life?

— Roxanne Battle, parent and journalist
Thanks for Visiting Say Yes to No -- Except as noted, images provided under End User License Agreement to Stephen Bush
Thanks for Visiting Say Yes to No -- Except as noted, images provided under End User License Agreement to Stephen Bush

© 2012 Stephen Bush

And now, your thoughts on the subject...

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    • shewins profile image

      shewins 4 years ago

      Parenting is so hard, parents need all the help they can get. This lens is very helpful, thanks.

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      JoshK47 4 years ago

      Nice work on this lens! Thanks for sharing - blessed by a SquidAngel!