3 Ways to Say “No” Without the Battle

“NO” can be one of the most difficult, yet most liberating, words to say. But nowadays, with the word “no” comes the connotation that you’re being unfair, selfish, or stubborn, and can give you that lingering feeling that you’re letting your children down. When, in fact, it can be just the opposite!

The key is figuring out when to say “no” – and then sticking to it!

If “NO” is a word that instinctively makes you squirm or curl-up into a ball, it’s time to release the Super Mom or Super Dad syndrome. We don’t always like saying “no” to our kids, and there are plenty of times where it’s perfectly acceptable to say “yes” – but we are only one person and can only do so much.

Our kids are amazing little humans that can mentally create their own agendas and get excited about events going on, things they want to do or stuff they “need” to buy. And that’s fantastic! They are their own people, and will therefore, have their own minds.

BUT … they need to understand at an early age that we can’t have everything we want. And it’s actually good, and healthy, not to!

When we say “no” to our children (at the right times), we are not only saving our own health, sanity, time (and money!), but we are also teaching them that it’s ok to say “no.”

This is where communication is key. Here are 3 simple tips to saying “no” without the battle.

  1. Explain why it won’t work this time: Tell them why they can’t get the toy or game they want right now, or why they can’t attend every birthday party that comes up. And if you understand and relate to their disappointment, rather than just leaving a closed-ended “no,” they are more likely to accept it without the fight. You also build the bond! This is a great way to demonstrate authority and empathy at the same time.
  1. Only say “no” once: When you tell your child “no,” say it firmly and only once. Let them know you are not open to that oh-so-irritating ongoing negotiation that so often can follow an unwelcomed answer. If this doesn’t work, don’t say “no” again, but find a way to turn it into a “yes”. For example, if they ask to have a cookie, instead of saying “No, you can’t”, try rephrasing it to “Yes, you can have a cookie after dinner.” Voila!
  1. Try not to lose your cool: I know it’s frustrating when you’ve said “no” and they keep asking. But instead of getting angry, or yelling, try engaging or playing with your child to change her focus. Often persistent requests are a sign of boredom and what they really want is your attention. Isn’t it great to be so loved?! Changing the subject also shows that “this conversation is over” and we have now moved on.

Give these a try and you may just find yourself a more peaceful and present parent, partner and person for it.

Have there been moments when it was grueling for you to say “no,” but you found a way to stand your ground? Was there a time when it was easier to cave into the “yes” then fight the ensuing battle that came with the “no”? Please leave a comment to share your answer and your stories! Would love to hear from you!