The Discipline Strategy That Makes Your ‘No’ Really Mean ‘No’

Mom Arguing with Young Daughter

The first time around.

If you find yourself giving in to your kids’ questions or requests easily, try this trick to help them understand the first time you say “no.”…

As parents, we’re told that good parenting means our kids listen when we say “no.” Good parenting also means we recognize our imperfections as parents and work to modify them. It’s a good idea for us to obtain quality parenting skills to get our children to welcome your first “no” without a fight.

We’ve all done it. Well, except for a couple perfect parents out there, but for most of us, we say “no” to our kids just to later turn around and give in after a few pleas. When the word “yes” emerges from our mouths, we generally regret it, however–by that point, it’s too late.

For those couple of flawless parents out there, although we applaud you, if you could please keep your perfect parenting to yourself! We actually commend your outstanding parenting skills, but we realize we have great parenting skills too. We simply haven’t had enough energy to perfect them, yet.

So we then utter the words, “Well, alright, just this one time. Don’t ask me anymore.”

Does that ring a bell? And we wonder why our kids won’t receive our answer the first time. It’s rather amusing that we are astonished and baffled at how regularly kids push our “no” into “yes.” We realize it’s because we give them the impression that our “no” shouldn’t be taken seriously. Because us working parents especially don’t have the energy to put up a fight about it. We simply don’t have the strength to argue with them, and end up giving in easily.

The question then arises: how do we get our kids to accept our answer the first time? The answer is simple. Firmly say, “No. This isn’t open for debate.”

Many parents know the dramatic grocery store scene a little too well. We say “no,” the child throws a tantrum, then we either give in to spare our innocent witnesses, and so they won’t think we’re horrible parents.

Too many times we neglect to remember that we are the parents and are in charge of making the decisions. Of course we allow our children to make some of their own decisions, but that too is our decision. If we don’t take control, then how can we possibly ask for anything different from our kids?

When your child asks a question that you are ill-equipped to answer, simply reply to them that you’ll mull over everything and you’ll let them know when you’re able to give them an answer. If the child hounds you by continuously bringing it up, give them one warning, a straightforward, serious warning that will work the first time: “If you continue to ask me before I give you an answer, then I’ll just say ‘no’ right now.” And if they don’t abide by this decision, then follow through with your warning. It might be difficult, however, it should just take once. If not, continue being consistent until they take you seriously.

If you’re asked a question from your children and choose to say “no,” look them in their eyes and speak firmly but tenderly. You don’t have to explain your decision after that, but if you choose to, watch out. You leave room for debate when you repeatedly explain your decision. It’s helpful to say “no,” then follow up with a short statement as to why you’ve come to that conclusion and end the discussion.

The child might harass you and try to argue that they’re right and you’re wrong. Try not to permit it. Listen attentively, embrace them, and let them know you hear what they’re saying, but your answer is no and that there will be no further conversation. If you need to leave after that to avoid further confrontation, then leave. If they’re persistent in trying to discuss the situation, disregard them. It will be challenging, but if you stand firm in your words, they will become final.

After all, punishment doesn’t work to discipline your child. Communication does.


The first time around.

If you find yourself giving in to your kids’ questions or requests easily, try this trick to help them understand the first time you say “no.”…

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