The Right Way To Say No To Your Kids

Not sure if using the ‘N’ word is right or wrong when it comes to your kids? Rupal Jain shares her tips on how you can best handle it without a meltdown.

“Be the parent today that you want your kids to remember tomorrow”- unknown.


Check out these scenarios:


Child: – Mom, can we order pizza today?

Mother: – But I have already made dinner.

Child: – We can eat that tomorrow. I really want to eat pizza today.

Mother: – Ok, let’s order.

Child: – Thanks Mom, You are cool!


Child: – I want a new bicycle/ motorcycle, dad

Father: – but you already have one.

Child: – All my friends have a new model, this is an old one, Please Please dad!

Father: – Ok…but

Child: – Thank you; you are the best dad in this world!


As a parent, it’s exceedingly difficult for us to say ‘No’ even more intricate for a child to accept ‘No’ as an answer from a parent. Most of the time just to avoid such situation we say ‘yes’ to things we don’t like or approve. We may think they will change their behaviour once they grow older but trust me, that doesn’t happen very often.  


Here are a few proven reasons why sometimes saying ‘No’ to kids is a big Yes:-

  • Saying No educates them on vital lessons in life like how to tackle disappointment.
  • They learn to wait for things they desire.
  • They learn when/how to ask and why it’s not good to argue.
  • They learn discipline.
  • Be affirmative.

Instead of ‘Don’t shout’ say ‘Can you talk softly?’; try saying ‘Can you go down and play’  instead of ‘Don’t play in the house’. Other examples you would use are replacing ‘Don’t sit on the table, you will break it’ with ‘Personal properties need to be protected’ or ‘You can’t eat chocolate before dinner’ to ‘Eat chocolate after you finish your dinner’.


At the outset, it would be difficult for them to accept ‘no’ for an answer, they may yell, shriek, suppurate or harm you or themselves but don’t panic. We all want our kids to be happy but focus on the bigger picture, on their long term well being rather than temporary happiness. So parents get over the guilt and regret of saying ‘No’ but please make sure you don’t use the word very often.


While saying NO, it’s equally important to accept ‘No’:-


“Don’t just teach your children to read, teach them to question what they read. Teach them to question everything” – George Carlin.


Sachika: – Let me finish my work mom.

Mom: – I said ‘No’, I am your mom. I know better. Stop your work right now and come here.

Sachika: – ‘No’, I don’t want to get up before I finish!


If you were Sachika’s mom, how would you immediately react? Choose one of the options:-

a.    You tell her, “I hate the word NO”

b.    You just walk away

c.    Sit down and constantly stare at her

d.    Show your disappointment with blaring.

e.    You feel sad and blame your upbringing.


If you choose any of the above options, then I am afraid to say – none of the above behaviours demonstrates constructive indications of strong parenting. As a parent, one of the biggest challenges in life is learning to accept the word NO.


Learning to accept rebuff for an answer is much harder for us than our children. These few ideas will indubitably assist you to accept refusals confidently: –

•    Don’t bellow, shriek, get exasperated, irate or distressed even if you are disturbed, and control your feelings.

•    Stop arguing. Don’t always ask for a detailed explanation for their refusal.

•    Don’t use your resentment or sensitive blackmailing words to change their No to Yes.

•    After you got their explanation doesn’t keep on asking, again and again, the same question.

•    Understanding your child’s frame of mind and emotionality when they disagree with you will help you to reduce the reaction.


Exercise for self-help

a.    Mention three poor responses you made to a veto answer-

b.    Write three tips you have learnt to acknowledge refusal as an answer (If you already did, great) –

c.    Write three benefits of how accepting rebuff helped you and even your child-


Just remember the golden rule- Accepting and Learning to say ‘No ‘is difficult but immensely rewarding task!


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