How to Teach your Child to Accept “No” for an Answer

No means no. This is a phrase we hear often in society, but how do we teach our children to respect this simple word? Sometimes, even when realizing that they can’t have what they want or haven’t gotten their way, kids will continue to demand it from their parents. Why is this the case and more importantly, how do we teach our children to accept a simple ‘no’ ? Part of this comes from a lack of understanding of the word. Kids don’t understand that no actually means not now or not ever – they think it simply means you’re saying no to them . So, when they hear the word no, even though it’s coming from you, they understand it to mean that they can keep trying . As parents we naturally want our children to be happy and well-behaved. We also harbor a desire for them to one day grow up and be successful in their adult lives. So, when your child is throwing a tantrum , screaming or demanding something from you, it can be challenging to hold your ground. Instead of automatically giving in, you should take the time to teach your child that no means no. Here’s how: When you’re teaching your child that no means no, it’s best to switch into teaching mode. This will help you get through this difficult moment with both of you coming out feeling happy. Before you say no, let your child know that you have heard what they have to say and are thinking about it. This tells them that you’re listening and care about what they want. Then, clearly state your decision by saying “I’m sorry but no means no.” If possible, tell them why this is the case so that they can better understand it. Then, let them know that you’re not prepared to discuss it any further. If your child continues to complain about their decision, assure them that you love them and are on their side. Tell them they can ask you again when they are calm or in a better mood. If the no is more serious, such as being told by another adult, remind your child that you are their number one fan and will always be there to listen to them. If you find yourself in this situation more than once, reevaluate what it is that your child wants. If they’re trying to convince you to buy something, suggest doing so at another time. When you teach your child that no means no, they are not only learning important social rules but also gaining a skill to survive in the real world . They will have had practice with hearing the word and won’t be caught off guard when someone says it to them. This makes it easier for them to say no themselves in the future. If your child is older, you can give them more responsibility when it comes to saying no. For example, if someone asks them to do something that they are not comfortable doing or suggests an activity that goes against their values. If this happens, remind them that they can always say no . Then let your child know that you will support their decision. If your child is still having trouble understanding the word no, you can always give them a visual representation to help them better understand what it means. Have a family meeting and create pictures to show that when someone says no , they mean this: They then will color in the pictures and label them in order to fully grasp what no means. Not only is this a great activity for your child, but it’s also gives you the opportunity to show your kids what being respectful looks like . If they are unable to accept no from an adult, their behavior will be unacceptable among their peers as well. When teaching your child that no means no , consistency is important. Make sure that you are the only one who answers their requests, so they’ll learn that adults can say no to them. Should other people give in, your child will understand that no means maybe . Also, whenever possible don’t give into bribery or guilt. Yes, this may be difficult at first but it’s important for your child to learn this skill. Before your children reach the age where they can say no on their own, it’s important that you firmly tell them no for them . This means saying the word without hesitation and letting them know this is your final answer. Should they still persist after hearing “no”, don’t give into the guilt trip of telling them “yes”. Instead, use distraction to help move on with the conversation. Teaching your children how to handle no is an important lesson in their lives. By consistently enforcing this rule, you are giving them a firm understanding of what it means and that they will eventually be able to use it with ease. However, if you find that no isn’t working for you, you can always try a few of the following techniques. This technique involves using another word, such as “stop”. When your child is constantly asking for something, simply say to them: “No means no and stop means stop.” Another example would be to use a phrase you both already know, like “not now” . This will help them to understand what no means and can eventually help them to remember it themselves. Another option is to replace the word “no” with another word like “down”. This word has a similar meaning, but may be easier for your child to process. If they continue asking for something after you’ve said “down”, you can simply reply with: “You need to go down. That’s the rule.” Another tactic is to slowly introduce your child to no by first finding out what they want . Next, you say “no” and then follow it up with something that they do have access to. An example would be: “You can’t have cookies because dinner is soon, but you can have some fruit.” This will help teach them that no is not the end of the world and there are other options. If you’ve tried all these techniques and still can’t get your child to understand no, it’s time for a more visual explanation. Write out on a piece of paper what they’re asking for as well as why you’re saying no . Picture this as a choice board , where they can choose what to do. For example, you could write: “You want to stay up and play – No, because it’s time for bed.” Draw an arrow from the picture of your child asking to the one having fun in bed so they understand that there are other options, not just what they want. This will help them understand that yes and no are both just words used to communicate with others. Even if the answer is no, it doesn’t mean that they’re being punished or that you don’t love them. It just means that they can’t have what they’re asking for at this time. Remember, this is a skill that will take some time to learn. They need to practice it over and over again so they’ll understand what it means. Remain firm with your no’s so the lesson stays clear in their minds. The early years are great for teaching kids about social skills . By setting strong boundaries now, you’re helping them to better understand how to handle themselves with their peers. If your child finds that saying no is difficult, don’t be afraid to tell them. Let them know you’re proud of them for standing up for themselves and their choices.