Does this conversation look familiar?
Family is watching a movie together. An ad comes on for a new toy or gadget. This is the conversation that follows:
Child: Hey mom, can I get that?
Child: Please????? I’ll clean my room without being asked!
Mom: No (a little stronger)
Child: Why not?
Mom: Because I said so (a touch of anger in her voice)
Child: Pleazzzzzze! Pretty please!!!!!!
It makes sense to say no to the ridiculous things our kids ask us for (such as that $199 electronic device they just saw on television).
But, we often say no to more than that. It could be a no to watching a movie, getting onto the internet or even going to a friend’s house.
Many times, no does not really mean no. It simply means “not right now.” However, as parents, we often forget that our kids can’t read our minds.
Don’t get me wrong, there are times when it really does mean no. But not always. Sometimes, there are better ways to say “no” – without saying no.
A Parent’s guide to telling your kids no: Change it to the yes alternative
Around our house, it seems the kids get hungry right as I am making dinner – and rightfully so. It is time for them to eat again and they are in too much of a hurry to wait for the noodles to cook.
So, they ask me for a cookie.
My immediate response is going to be “no.” But, it is not that I don’t want them to have the cookie, I simply want them to wait until after dinner.
Instead of saying “no” say – “not until after dinner.” You are telling them no, not at this time but yes, you can do it later.
You aren’t giving into your child but rather, letting them know there is a time when we eat cookies and do not. It teaches them how to be patient and to understand why you are telling them no.
Watch the tone
When you have been asked the same question 19 times before noon and said “no” every other time, there is a chance that when you are asked for the 20th time that you are going to be short. You may even yell.
It’s understandable. You’ve hit a wall and are out of patience. Why can’t they just accept “NO” as an answer!?!?
Be firm with them and use the right inflection and let them know that they are not to continue asking or you may yell.
Don’t let it build up by allowing them to ask the question multiple times. Instead, be firm (without yelling) when your child asks.
Offer a choice
Instead of spouting off with a “no” as soon as your child asks a question, ty to offer them an alternative option.
Our 12-year-old son loves to play his guitar. He likes to be in the room with us but when we are watching a movie, it can be distracting. Rather than tell him to stop, I give him choices: He can play the guitar in his room or he can take it to the basement.
I am not telling him not to do it but rather, giving him options. The decision is his and he is then in control of what happens next.
Know that it is OK to hurt their feelings
It is important that my kids know that I am their parent. I am not their friend. My goal is to ensure they grow up to be responsible adults. Period.
If that means I need to say no to them once in a while and they get upset – so be it. They will not be scarred for life because I told them they could not get the box of cookies from the store.
When we tell our kids no, we are teaching them how to delay gratifica
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These are valuable life skills they need to know while they live under your roof and before the venture out in the real world.
Use the no as a chance to learn
My 11-year-old is an expert negotiator. And, it’s been learned through me telling her no.
For example, she may want to get something at the store. I tell her no and she responds that it is only $3. I again say no and then she says that she will take care of collecting and sorting the laundry for me for the next two weeks. I get it for her.
She has learned the art of negotiating, which is a skill that is very important to possess. I’m not saying everything can, or should be negotiated (they can’t run and play in the snow without a hat and mitten).
However, when our kids say no, we can use our negotiating skills to teach them that if they want something there may be an offer they can make in exchange. You aren’t saying no, but rather, get them to do something to show you it is worth it to them.
It’s okay to say no
As a parent, we are in control. We call the shots. You never want to tell your child “yes” to every request in the same way you don’t always want to say “no.”
My kids don’t like the word “no.” But one day, they will all understand. But by then, they will be saying “no” to their kids and I get to say “yes” as the grandma.