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The Importance of Teaching Your Child 'No'

The Importance of Teaching Your Child No | Parent Like A Professional

If you asked any parent every parent if they say 'no' to their kid, the answer would most likely be a unanimous 'yes.'  

Of course, sometimes parents must tell children 'no.'

  • I don’t have the fruit that is being requested.
  • We can't jump in the car and drive to nana and papa's house.
  • Your action is just plain dangerous and needs to stop. 

So, the gist of this blog is not necessarily that parents need to say 'no' more frequently.  Instead, this post is about how our children respond to hearing 'no,' and what we as parents can do better when we decide the answer is ' no.'

Most people, universally, do not enjoy being told 'no' especially if it was something they desired. 

Even for adults, hearing 'no' almost always comes with some level of disappointment.

  • No, I didn't get the raise.
  • No, we didn’t get the house we wanted.
  • No, I can't eat that extra cookie if I want to stick to my healthy eating plan.  

Being told 'no' can be disappointing, but it's also guaranteed to happen in our children's lives. So, it's best for parents to work on teaching kids how to best understand 'no,' respect it, and manage the resulting emotions.  

And my cautionary tale is this: if your child, by the age of three, does not respect 'no' – meaning you tell her 'no' but she does it anyway, you'll really be in trouble. You can only imagine what the outcome will be when she is a teenager and wants to go to a party but you say 'no.'

How to teach your child that 'no' means 'no'

You first need to identify what stage your child is in and choose a way that best suits your unique family dynamic.

The best thing that you can do is to start when your child is a baby. Around the 8-10 month range, babies begin to recognize the word 'no,' but they might not respond to it. 

In determining whether my son was ready to start working on the skill of stopping after hearing 'no,' I simply tested that he reacted after it was said. 

My son is a one-man demolition derby and wants to get into EVERYTHING.  He wants to put cords in his mouth, climb on the dog, pull down the table lamp – anything dangerous, he's into it. 

So, I simply put him in a situation where I knew he was going to go toward something that he wasn't supposed to get.  Then I said clearly, 'no,'  to which he stopped and turned to look at me.  He then smiled and went right back to it.  (What a stinker!)

Instructional Video: Teaching Baby 'No'

Watch this short instructional video with "Best Kept Parenting Secrets" for how to teach your baby, 'no':


FREE Guides for Teaching 'No' to Babies/Toddlers and Tweens/Teens

We've also created two free guides to add to your parenting toolbox. One for babies and toddlers; and one for older children. Be sure to keep scrolling down for these essential resources! 



How to Get Your Baby to Respond to 'No'

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    For Tweens & Teens

    If your child is no longer a baby, that’s okay!  Parents can still work on improving how well their kids respond when they are told 'no.'  Most likely, you say 'no' and then they beg and cry, ask over and over, or even sneak the forbidden item, right?  Why do they do this?  Well, almost certainly it is because in the past when they have tried these same moves, we have given in and let them have what they wanted so that they would just stop complaining!  Sound about right?

    The solution is relatively simple, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy. 
    Give thought to telling your child 'no.'  Make sure that it is something that is non-negotiable to you.  When you tell your kid 'no,' you must be willing to stick to your guns and not give your child the desired item no matter how much they beg or cry.  What are you teaching your child is that your words are meaningful, and that there is no amount of negotiating that will get them the desired item.  If you stick it out, pretty soon you will notice that your child no longer begs and cries when you tell them 'no.'

    Now, that is not to say that we don’t all sometimes immediately say 'no' when our child is asking us for something, only to realize that it’s not a big deal and it is actually something that they can have. 
    Use this opportunity to teach your child how to admit a mistake, and then change your answer. 


    Get Our  FREE GUIDE:

    How to Get Your Teen & Tween to Respond to 'No'

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