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How to Say No to Your Kids

Saying no is never easy, but it’s often necessary. Here are several ways to make it easier on both you and your kids.

Mother and daughter talkingAndersen Ross/Getty Images


4. Don’t Jump to ‘No’ Automatically

“When my kids approach me for something, I ask them why they want or need the item,”  says Mary O’Donohue, mom of two and author of When You Say ‘Thank You,’ Mean It ($17, “If their answer gives me insight into why I should agree, then I say ‘yes’. If I say ‘no,’ they know that they have been heard and not just dismissed.”

5. Use It Sparingly

Parent Educator Sarah Lendt, M.S.Ed., NCC says she reserves the word “no” for truly dangerous situations, when she supplies an age-appropriate explanation of her reasoning. Otherwise, she finds alternative words to maintain limits. Some examples of her “no” alternatives include:

  • “Not today”
  • “Maybe another time”
  • “Let’s choose something else.”

6. Keep It Short

For younger children, psychotherapist Barbara Neitlich recommends using short explanations such as “It is not O.K. to take the toy away from your friend,” and moving the child on to find another toy or activity. “Parents tend to feel that they have to explain and re-explain to a child why they said ‘no,’” she says. “You do not have to do this. Shorter is actually better because a young child does not have the intellectual capacity to follow your reasoning. Long explanations often make them feel more confused and frustrated.”

7. Set a Budget

Once children hit their preteen or teenage years, setting a budget for clothing can help them make reasonable choices and eliminate the need for you to refuse to buy them items in the first place, explains Sarah Clachar, founder of Fit Family Together and a mom of two.


Read More About:Kids & Parenting

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