Nobody likes hearing the word “no,” and that is especially true for children. With the word “no” can come tantrums, upset, and anger. It usually results in a power struggle and battle that no one really wants to have. Below are 6 tips that can help you avoid using the dreaded “no” word eliminating any battles that might follow, as well as, helping keep the peace between your child and you.
6 Alternatives to Saying “No”:
1. Offer Choices. Instead of just telling your child “no,” give them choices to pick from. If your child asks to have cake for a snack and you would prefer he have something healthy, tell him that for snack he can either have carrots or an apple. If he is not happy with those choices, let him know that he can either pick or you will choose for him. If he still has not made a choice, go ahead and pick one for him. Give your child the snack and ignore any tantrums or talk about not being happy with the snack.
2. Give an Explanation. If the answer is “no”, do not just say “no,” but supply an explanation for why we cannot do that or why it might not be a good idea. For example, if your child wants to watch a scary movie you can let them know that the movie may cause nightmares and is not appropriate for them, but they can pick a different movie to watch. Or if your child wants to play a game that is not at their age level, explain the reason they cannot play that now is because they are not old enough yet, but in a few years will be. Have them choose a different game to play.
3. Think Before You Talk. Rather than immediately blurting out “no,” think before you respond. Figure out why that is the answer and let your child know why what he/she wants/requests cannot happen at that time.
4. Offer it Later. There are times that your child might ask for something but unfortunately they cannot have it. For example, if your child asks for ice cream for breakfast, the appropriate response would be “no.” However, instead tell your child that we need to have something else for breakfast (provide choices: cereal, pancakes, eggs, etc.,) but after lunch we can have some ice cream.
5. Keep Track of Wants. If you have a child who is constantly asking for toys or other items, remind them of different holidays that may be approaching. Encourage your child to ask for those things for their birthday, Christmas, or other special occasions. This way you are not saying they can never have that, but helping them create a want/wish list.
6. Make a Deal. Provide opportunities for your child to earn the items they want. If you are in the store and your child asks for something, instead of saying “no,” make a deal with them. Tell your child that she can get the Barbie Doll if she helps load and empty the dishwasher for a week or your son can get the Nerf toy he wants if he keeps his room clean. Use these situations to help increase your child’s responsibility around the house or with schoolwork.
In the beginning, it might be hard to catch yourself from just blurting out “No!”. However, keeping these helpful tips in mind will aid in deescalating potential problems that usually occur from that response. And remember practice makes perfect!