Five Things to do to Avoid Hearing NO

mad child saying no to his parents and not cooperating
It is incredibly frustrating when our child says "NO" to us.  If we react to it, they could feel more powerful than we want them to, causing them to do it more often.  Often times, they are saying no as a way of communicating that they need to feel more powerful.  We want our children to have the power to say no to others, so we must be careful how we handle their objections at home.  Here are five methods to gain a child’s cooperation.  

No: Why Kids--of All Ages--Need to Hear It and Ways Parents Can Say It

Don’t Overreact When They Tell You No.  Overreacting gives your children inappropriate power and may anger you.  If they refuse to comply, turn your original request into an entertaining activity in order to get it done.  Race them to the bath or tell them you’re going to pick up more puzzle pieces then they will.  If you find yourself becoming angry, walk away and let it go, and use one of the following ideas next time to be more successful.  

Use Choices Instead of Commands.  Giving a child a choice rules out "no" as an automatic response.  Instead of saying “Go get your pajamas on,” say, “Would you like to wear your pink pajamas or the ones with little ducks on them?”  

Chore-Awesome! (How to get your kids to do chores without asking)

Girl raking leaves as one of her chores around the house
List Choices of Chores for Older Children.  Instead of ordering your child to rake the leaves or take out the trash, create a list of 3 or 4 reasonable tasks that you could use help with, being sure that what you really want is on the list.  Tell your child that you need his help and all he has to do is pick one or two things from the list.  Be ready to remain calm in case he doesn’t pick what you really wanted, so make sure that you’re comfortable with all of the choices listed.  

Say “I’m Not Ready for You to do That.”  Because she will repeat what you say, avoid using the word "no" yourself.  If she asks to do something that might be dangerous or something you’re not ready for her to do, say it.  Tell her that you’re “not ready for her to do that,” instead of judging her age, size or abilities.  It also avoids power struggles, labels and arguments; instead, it models respect.  

Say “I’m Not Willing To Do That.”  Saying “No” to your child when he asks you to do something for him, such as take him to the park or buy him something, models a behavior that he will repeat.  Replacing the word "No" with the statement above demonstrates a personal boundary and is not just a challenge for him to make you say “Yes.”   If you must say the word "No," be sure to say it in a way that is calm and respectful.  If you yell “No” at your child, he will repeat it in the same way.   

There is a wonderful poem in the book Chicken Soup for the Woman’s Soul (1996; HCI Publishing).  The poem “Angela’s Word” by Barbara K. Bassett is a moving verse that describes the life of a woman who was trained as a child by her parents to never say no.  She then found it extremely difficult to say it as an adult and because of this, gave up so much of herself to others.  But then her life changed the day she “got permission to say NO… she became a person first, then a mother and a wife!”

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