5 Surefire Ways to Say 'No' to Your Kids

Saying "no" to your kids is never an easy task. But it doesn’t always have to be a bad thing. Mighty Mommy has five surefire ways to say "no" to your kids, so that they’ll ultimately grow up to be respectable, young adults who understand consequences.

Cheryl Butler
6-minute read
Episode #332

Saying "no" to your kids can be a challenge, but it’s absolutely necessary to teach them right from wrong, help them learn boundaries, and if nothing else, demonstrate that they can’t always get their way in life—sometimes, the answer is simply "no."

It’s easier said than done, however. Saying “no” can often be one of the most difficult things parents have to do. If you waiver, and your kids learn that your “no” doesn’t really mean “no,” you’ll be setting them up for a very disappointing life. Here are Mighty Mommy's five tips for saying "no" to your children:.

Tip #1: Lay the Groundwork When Things Are Going Smoothly

Depending on your child’s age and what the situation might be in which you have to say “no,”  I’ve had great success by having preemptive conversations—at their level—in which we discuss things before there’s any friction.

For example: If you know you’re going to take the kids food shopping that afternoon, sit down before you leave for the store and let them know that they’ll be going to the store with you. Make it clear that you have a specific list of items you’ll be buying and no extra money in the budget for trying out the latest brand of cereal they saw on TV. Tell them there won’t be any items purchased at the check-out lane, regardless of how tempting that triple berry bubblegum might look at the time.

So, when the colorful cereal aisle beckons, you can simply refer to your earlier conversation and remind them that you agreed there was going to be no food or gum sampling today. Just remember—it’s your job to be consistent and stick with the plan, no matter how your 4-year-old acts when you gently remind him to put the chocolate bar back at the check-out lane.  See Also:  5 Ways to Speak Positively to Children

Tip #2: Make “No” Fun With the Question Game

Often parents have to say no to a request that is harmless, but just not feasible. And because our kids aren’t afraid to ask for such things, they can ask many times in a short period, making us the bad guy who consistently rejects their pleas. For example, when picking up your kids after school, they may bombard you with the pressure of asking if their friends can come over, even though they know today you’ve already made plans to visit Grandma who hasn’t been feeling well. First, you can remind them that today isn’t possible because Grandma is looking forward to their visit, and that you can try for another day next week for a playdate. Once in the car, you can ask questions such as, “If you and Kate could have played after school, what would you have done first? What would you have made for an after-school snack?" True, she’s not having the playdate she requested, and you had to say “no," but you gave a reason it wouldn’t work today, and then engaged her in a fun game to get her thinking about what she’ll enjoy with her friend when she does come over next week.  See Also:  5 Ways to Be a More Playful Parent


About the Author

Cheryl Butler

Cheryl L. Butler is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. Call the Mighty Mommy listener line at 401-284-7575 to ask a parenting question. Your call could be featured on the show!