7 Tips To Teach Your Child To Accept NO As An Answer
STORY: Priyanka Elhence
24 November 2022
Hearing “no” is a big part of life, but it can be really frustrating for your toddler to be refused something without it becoming a tantrum or meltdown. Nonetheless, saying no to kids is a crucial part of parenting, as “no” helps establish boundaries with kids, keeps them from danger and teaches them self-mastery and dealing with disappointment.
Try these tips to help your child accept NO as a positive answer graciously:
1. Establish your authority early on
Parents establish their authority by setting and enforcing limits, thus establishing a structure for the entire childhood. The earlier you firmly establish your (consistent) authority, the easier it will be for your child to learn that "no" means no. If you give in to temper tantrums from such a young age, you’re training them to challenge your authority and that you will give in when they act out, and that it’s okay to act out because then they will get their way with you!
2. Listen to understand
Sit down and listen to why your child doesn’t want to accept the "no". By understanding why your child is refusing to follow directions or do what needs to be done, you can problem solve quickly in the moment and move on. Remember being overly strict with your child can backfire in the long run, so give them a little wiggle room and space to test their limits without threatening your final word.
3. Offer an alternative option
One way of diffusing an unpleasant situation is by offering your child an alternative that is at least as equally (if not more) valued as their original request. But alternatives should be immediately taken off the table if your child also throws a tantrum at that too.
4. Don’t get into a shouting match
Toddlers can get very loud very fast and a normal situation can quickly disintegrate into a full-on shouting match, with them demanding an explanation from you for the refusal, while you shout to try and maintain some authority. But shouting back at your child only brings you to the same level as them, hence totally negating your authority. You’re the adult. You can rise above loud words and handle the situation better.
5. Walk away
Toddlers need you to explain things a reasonable amount, but after you’ve done that, it’s not productive to keep explaining your point. You’re the adult and the best thing you can do when your child won’t stop arguing is to say in a firm voice, “I’m not going to discuss this any further”. Then turn around and walk away indifferent and unfazed. Important: Don’t turn back and respond to any backtalk. It will just give your child more power over you to keep you turning back again and again. Going on about life after your child behaves badly to your “no” keeps the power with the parents without a physical struggle.
6. You don’t need to be your child’s friend
The parent-child relationship is a complex lifelong relationship, and it’s not usually till adulthood that your child will start treating you as a friend. So take advantage of that and focus on the essential role of your job as a parent is to teach your child, coach your child, and set limits. Remember, your child has friends. But he needs someone (a parent) to set boundaries and say something like: “No, you can’t have ice cream before dinner”, and teach them the difference between right and wrong.
7. Help your child understand the rules when he calms down
There’s no point trying to explain things to your child when he’s in the middle of a tantrum. The time to coach behaviour and consequences is when he is calm and happy. Sit down and say to your child: “When I say ‘no,’ I don’t want to talk to you anymore about that. ‘No’ means no.” Practice helping your child accept ‘no’ in a less emotional context first with things that don’t matter that much to your child, rather than teaching them with something that’s a favourite. As mentioned before, bring in alternative options to let your child know that they still have other choices and slowly build up to him hearing ‘no’ when it actually is something that the child wants.