Saying “no” is a challenging part of parenting (and grandparenting). Here are some ideas that may help
When you have to stop an action about to happen or already in progress:
- “STOP” or “Danger” “Hot” “Hold it” “It is prohibited” “Access denied” or other phrases besides “no”. With toddlers say “Not for [child’s name]”
- If at all possible, be physically present to block, catch, grab, etc.—especially with toddlers.
- Reserve yelling for when it is really needed—dangerous situations. A stern look, frown or headshake can get your point across.
- Refer to the rule or ask the child what the rule is. “The rule in our family is no hitting.”
- Tell the child what he or she CAN do. Teach and practice with your child the safe/respectful/socially acceptable way to do things.
- Acknowledge and accept the child’s feelings as you act on the “no”—often without actually saying the word. “You want your ball back. I will help you when it is safe to go get it.”
- Give information or describe the problem. This gives the reason for the “no” without needing to use the word. “Those cookies are for the party” “The problem is I don’t have any money for toys today. We’ll have to put that back on the shelf.”
When your child resists doing something that he/she has to do:
- Acknowledge and accept the child’s feelings as you act on the “no”–without actually saying the word. Example: “You’ve really liked playing at the park. We’ve had a good time (while taking the child’s hand to leave). Should we come again tomorrow?”
- Acknowledge and accept the child’s feelings and grant them in fantasy. “You’ve really liked playing at the park. You wish you could play here for another hour—for the whole day—you wish you could live at the park!” “You don’t like being in your car seat. You wish you could fly to the store.”
- State what needs to happen. Stay calm and wait quietly nearby for the child to cooperate.
When your child asks ahead of time:
- “Yes, later” or yes with a condition. Barbara Coloroso points out that if you say “Yes, later” “later” can be 10 seconds from now—it’s still more effective than saying no and then changing your mind. Examples: “Can I go to Sally’s house?” “Yes, as soon as your room is picked up.”
- Give yourself time to think—either don’t respond right away or say, “Let me think about it.”
It helps to be clear on what you really want and why—when you know that, it is easier to set a limit and stick with it.
- “Convince me.” This makes the child do all the talking and thinking.
- Let the environment say no by childproofing and avoiding tempting situations. Use the clock or a timer to signal when to stop an activity or leave a location.
- Go over the rules ahead of time.
- Nobody likes to hear No. Accept that your child will probably be mad at you. Try to stay calm and confident yourself. Remind yourself of the need to set limits and protect your child and others.
- Learning can’t take place when child is upset or in the midst of a tantrum. Later, you can explore ways to help prevent future problems.
- Notice cooperative behavior and thank your child
Originally published on ParentingSuccessNetwork May 8, 2013http://parentingsuccessnetwork.org/parenting_tips/2013/when-no-is-necessary/