5 Ways to Say "Yes" to Your Kids

Mighty Mommy is going to share 5 ways you can become a “yes” mom/dad in your daily life as a parent while not crossing the line when you really do have to say “no”.

Cheryl Butler
5-minute read
Episode #246

After spending nearly 10 weeks of summer togetherness with my 8 kids, I realized there was a word in my vocabulary that I was using a little too often — and that word was “No!”

  • “Can I go to Jimmy’s house and hang out in his yard while he has family dinner, Mom?”
  • “No!”  
  • “I’m going to give the dogs a bath in the hot tub because it’ll be easier than hosing them down in the driveway, Ok Mom?” 
  • “No!”
  • “I’m going to put my clean laundry away after I watch this quick replay from last night’s baseball games, alright?” 
  • “No, you’re not!”

Childhood sets the tone for how a child views himself, others, and the world. That's why we as parents need to allow our kids to take full advantage of the many opportunities childhood offers.  When we say ‘yes’ to reasonable requests, we give our children the chance to grow.  When we habitually say ‘no,’ or do so without good cause, we deny them the chance to fully enjoy the carefree pleasures of childhood.   .

Today, Mighty Mommy is going to share 5 ways you can become a “yes” parent in your daily life, without becoming a pushover.

Tip #1: Make it a “Yes” Day

Give your kids a big surprise and announce that you’re going to devote an entire day to everything “yes”—within reason, of course.  You won’t be saying “yes” to anything that would endanger your child, like playing street hockey in the middle of the street, or things that could cause him to get ill, like allowing him to eat 20 chocolate chip cookies in one sitting. But otherwise, reasonable requests will be met with a resounding "yes."

The recent “Yes” day we held in our house started with an informal family meeting explaining we’d be focusing on as many positive actions, responses, and examples as possible. This included even silly things like taking a bath with the dog and filling the ice cube trays with red fruit punch (gasp!) rather than plain water.

After making the initial announcement, I laid out the very brief limitations (safety, physical well being, etc.) and we were off and running.  For extra fun, I had the kids keep count of every time I said the words “yes” or “sure” or “you bet” instead of my usual “no” responses and the tally was a pleasing 65 yes’s and only 15 no’s.

Tip #2: Be Creative When Doling Out “Yes”

All parents know that at the end of a long day, it can be almost rote to respond “no” to your child’s zany and sometimes irritating requests.  The first step in becoming a “yes” mom or dad is to be conscious of how you are actually responding.  For example, just minutes before we sit down to dinner my kids are notorious for clamoring in the kitchen and looking for something to eat.

“We’re starving!  Can we have a snack?” they whine. My normal response is “Please get out of the kitchen until I serve dinner.”  But I’ve been trying a new response that has a more positive spin, instead of carping “no.” 

“I know you’re really hungry, so why don’t you wash up, grab a few of those grapes I have on the counter or butter up a piece of that Italian bread on the kitchen island, and then come help me put the meal on the table and we can all sit down and eat faster.”

Tip #3: Turn Your “No” Around

Most kids are famous for asking to do something at the most inopportune moment or doing so in front of heir friends thinking you’ll cave into their request.

For example, this past weekend my 10-year-old son wanted to invite one of his friends over for a sleepover and asked me right in front of the kid, which really put me on the spot. 

“Can Jake sleep over tonight, mom, we already asked his mom and she said yes.”  (Don't you just love it?)

Instead of saying “No, not tonight” I said: “Yes, Jake can sleep over, but not tonight, Dad and I already made plans to go out.  How does next Friday night sound instead?”

This way, it didn't leave much room for argument but also didn't embarrass him in front of his friend. Win-win!

See also: 5 Tips To Help Kids Handle Disappointment


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Cheryl Butler Project Parenthood

Cheryl L. Butler was the host of the Mighty Mommy podcast for nine years from 2012 to 2021. She 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. You can reach her by email.