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Saying a No to your child: Why is it so hard?

I have been working with thousands of children over a span of twelve years, and one of the most common concerns of many parents is that they just don't know how to say a NO to their children. "How do I say a NO without hurting my child, Pavan?" They ask, and that explains to me how most of them have become passive parents when instead they must be active ones.

It's a known fact that kids make it unbelievably hard for parents to say a NO. Your child might make you feel guilty, he or she might throw tantrums. They resort to plenty of such ways, but what you should remember is that you can only set your limits and not be responsible for how he or she feels about it


I've seen parents choose to give up though they clearly want to fix certain limits. Let me tell you that you still have time to enforce such limits while assisting your child in developing skills that would help him/her deal with rejections they are going to face in the real world in their future.

How can you regain the authority?

Most parents refrain from saying a NO because they worry how their child is going to react. They cry, they scream, they throw around things, cause damage or even hit at times. That is why they would be forced to give a Yes. I suggest that you talk to yourself a few positive things. Tell yourself that you are doing it (saying a NO) for the greater good of your child. Tell yourself that while their reaction is a consequence of your rejection, you have to do what you got to do. Besides, I also have a few ideas that you might use while saying a NO so that you minimise the collateral damage!

Try and explain!

Just saying a No might not help. Kids will not understand parents' point of view, and they repeat their misbehaviour until you choose to explain as to why it is a No. The best thing to do is saying a No and giving them enough reasons so they can understand or at least try to understand!

You could postpone a Yes instead of giving a No

Did that baffle you? I'm pretty sure you can do that. Children may get frustrated hearing No many a time. What I suggest is that you can postpone your Yes instead of disappointing them with a No. Let me give you an instance. If your child asks you for a new toy, you can be like, "Yes, you can have that you after a couple of months". That is just an example. You can always find ways like these where you can postpone your consent.

Tell, don't yell

Screaming at your children might end up causing stress issues and behavioural problems in them. Nobody likes to be yelled at. What you need to learn is to communicate your dissent in such a way that they understand you mean no harm to them. Be friendly, talk to them calmly and explain to them why you're saying a No. That must probably do the trick!

Don't humiliate them

Most of the times, you slam a No in the presence of other people, and that may come across as a disregard to your child which is not a good sign. Take them away, talk to them in private and tell them why it is a No. Otherwise, your child might end up hating you for disrespecting them in the presence of others, especially if the other people end up making a mockery out of it. Know one thing, if you embarrass your kids in public, they might just end up doing the same to you!

No false hopes, please!

Are you postponing a request of your child? Then you better stick to it. I have seen parents making false promises just to slip away from the situation and entirely forget their promise. Are you saying, "Not now, we will buy it later"? Then you better give them a specific period and make sure you live up to your promise.

Substitute their request with something else

Offering them substitutes will decrease the effect of rejection to a great extent. If you are denying them chocolates, offer them fruits that they love to eat. What I'm trying to say is that by giving an alternative, they understand that you care about them, and you aren't saying a No because you wish to hurt them!

Stay in sync with your partner

If one parent says a No, usually kids walk up to the other parent to get a Yes. This might end up causing conflicts between your partner and you. This will also lead to enhanced manipulative habits of the child. Hence, it is always important that you communicate with your partner and have a unanimous decision!

Parents wish to see their children happy, no doubts on that, and this is what makes saying a No so difficult. But for the greater good, it is always wise to prepare your child to face rejections. While you stick to your dissent, make sure you damp down the effects. These ideas will certainly make a difference in this regard!

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