As a parent, the temptation to say no is almost irresistible. It just rolls off our tongue. So, imagine how many times your child must have heard the word by now? When your kid pulls the dog’s ear, reaches for the stove, picks an icky thing off the floor, or whines for candy before dinner — the list is endless.
If you are in the habit of frequently saying no to your child (like every other parent), your child must have probably learned to tune it out by now. Though an outright “no” might seem like the easiest way to deal with a challenging situation, sometimes it doesn’t work. That’s why you need a more effective way to get your child to listen to you. Below we list down the five ways you can accomplish your goals by choosing the right words.
1. Give Them A Reason
Your child will appreciate reasoning more than an impulsive no. Try to explain the reason behind it. This way, your kids will learn a thing or two, which will help them make better decisions in the future.
Instead of saying: “No, don’t play with it.”
You could say: “It is not a toy. So, let’s leave it on the shelf. It’s a delicate glass vase, and you could easily break it if you play with it. We don’t want that, do we?”
2. Show Empathy
One of the main reasons to choose a better approach than “no” is because when we say “no,” we often disregard our child’s feelings. Try to think of a more thoughtful response that lets your child know you see them and understand how they feel.
Instead of saying: “No, don’t hit me.”
You could say: “I know you are upset and frustrated. But it’s not right to hit people. Why don’t you try telling me what’s bothering you using words?”
3. Leave The Door To Communication Open
Whether you are a child or an adult, the word “no” immediately shuts down any chances for honest communication. Think about it, you are in an argument with your partner, and he says “No!”. It will only pave the way to more anger and resentment.
Instead of saying: “No!”
You could say: “I understand that you want space. But it’s not okay to shove someone. Let’s go and apologize to your friend.”
4. Give Them Information
When you say “no” to your child, you are simply telling them, “don’t do that.” Instead, try telling them what to do. Providing them with information will help your child listen to you better and do things more constructively.
Instead of saying: “No, don’t do that.”
You could say: “Look, mommy has kept her phone away. Why don’t you leave your toys in your room? You can play with it after dinner.”
5. Keep Your Tone Non-Judgemental
When we constantly say no to kids in a harsh tone or a reprimanding way, they might start to associate it with thoughts such as “I have done something wrong” or “I’m a bad child.” Instead of immediately saying “no”, send across a message that lets them know that you see the good in them. At such a young age, they may not fully grasp the consequences of their actions. But a “No!” may not be the best way to ask them not to do something. Sure, if your child is in danger or about to do something that might cause harm to him or others, a “no” might be your first reaction. But otherwise, think your words through so that your child does not immediately feel defensive after hearing them.
Instead of saying: “No, stop it.”
You could say: “Seems fun to skate inside the house, isn’t it? Why don’t you take it to the front yard, so you don’t break anything.”
We know it can be hard to stop saying “no” immediately. So, be kind to yourself and take the time you need. When you provide your kids with information and show empathy and understanding, they will be more likely to listen to you and learn the rules. Your kid will more likely follow through with it even in your absence. Remember, you can still have control over the situation and hold a limit without saying no or being harsh. But it’s okay sometimes to be more firm if one approach doesn’t work.
If you found our article helpful, share it with fellow moms and dads to help them find a better way to communicate with their children.