The most loving way to say…No

“No.” Kids hate to hear it and you hate to say it. There are better ways to deny, deter, or discipline your child than always saying “no.” Aside from the obvious exhaustion — for both parent and child — some parenting experts believe that saying “no” too much can breed resentment or plant seeds for future rebellion. Use short, clear and concise phrases to explain why your precious angel shouldn’t do something. Try these six short sentences to substitute for “no.”

  1. Rephrase your Request in a Positive Way: Instead of  saying, “No, don’t run,”  try, “Please walk inside.”  Instead of  “No, don’t touch!” try, “You want to touch the lamp, but it might fall and break. Please just look with your eyes.” Instead of, “No, don’t touch the cat,” try, “Please remember to touch the cat gently.” (You may have to stay close to demonstrate gentle touches.)
  2. Let your Child know what he may do instead of telling him what he can’t do: Instead of,  “No, you can’t have a cookie now,”  try saying, “You may have a cookie after dinner. If you are hungry now, you may have fruit or a piece of cheese.”  Instead of,  “No climbing on the furniture,” try, “The chair is for sitting in. If you’d like to climb, you may climb here (showing him). “Instead of , “No, we can’t go to the playground because it’s raining,” try saying, ” I know how much you love to play outside. We can go out as soon as the rain stops. Would you  like to read a story or build with your blocks while we wait for the rain to stop?” Instead of , “No! No throwing balls indoors,” try saying, “You can roll the ball indoors or take it outside and throw it. What’s your choice?”
  3. Ask for your child’s help and thank him when he gets it right: Instead of, “No! I told you not to take your shoes off because we’re getting ready to go,”  try saying, “You need your shoes on to go outside. Please help me find them so we can get ready to go.” Instead of,  “No more playing for you. I’m not going to ask you to pick up your toys again,” try, “Thank you for helping me to clean up all the toys!”  Instead of,  “I said no yelling!” try lowering your own voice and saying, “Thank you for remembering to speak softly while your baby sister is sleeping.”
  4. Explain the reason for your request, and  state what behavior you want to see instead: Instead of  saying, “No, don’t________ ,” try stating,  “I want you to_____________ because__________. “No, don’t throw the sand,” becomes, “I want you to keep the sand low in the sandbox, so it doesn’t get in anyone’s eyes, because that might hurt.” “No, don’t bang on the table,” becomes, “I want you to stop banging on the table because the sound it makes is loud, and it’s hurting my ears.”
  5. Use “sportscasting”  to say what you see: Instead of saying, “No throwing food!” try saying, “You’re throwing your food. That tells me you’re done eating, so I am going to put the food away now.” Instead of “No splashing in the cat’s water bowl,” try saying, “You are playing in the cat’s water bowl, and splashing water all over the floor. That water is for the cat to drink. If you want to play in water, let’s fill the tub with water.”
  6. If your child is hitting, kicking, or biting: Instead of saying, “No hitting/kicking/biting!” try saying, “Hitting/kicking/biting hurts! I won’t let you hit/kick/bite me. If you want to hit/kick/bite, you may hit the floor (or these pillows)/kick this ball/bite this teething ring.

    When you take the time to talk with your child in the respectful, positive ways above, explaining the reasons for your requests, offering choices, modeling the behavior that you want to teach, and bringing your child’s awareness to the impact his actions have on other people, you are including him in the learning process, and  guiding him to become self aware and self regulating in his behavior. This is the true goal of discipline; to help your child to become disciplined from within and learn to make good choices, instead of dependent on someone else to tell him what is right or wrong.

    Tell me, have you found other ways to gain your toddler’s co-operation without resorting to saying no over and over? I’d love it if you’d share.

When you take the time to talk to your child in the respectful, positive ways above, explaining the reasons for your requests, offering choices, modeling the behavior that you want to teach, and bringing your child’s awareness to the impact his actions have on other people, you are including him in the learning process, and guiding him to becoming self aware and self regulating in his behavior. This is the true goal of discipline; to help your child to become disciplined from within and learn to make good choices, instead of dependent on someone else to tell him what is right or wrong.

Tell me, have you found other ways to gain your toddler’s co-operation without resorting to saying no over and over again? I’d love it if you’d share.

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