I recently wrote a post called “How to Tell Your Toddler “No” (Without Actually Saying “No). So much of the response was overwhelmingly positive. I think as a parent it can sometimes feel like the day to day rhythm is one big giant power struggle. Using phrases that convey the meaning of the word “No” without actually using the word “No” has made a huge positive impact on the daily rhythm and flow in our home.
There were a few readers, however, that said things like this…
“Never telling your kids no sets them up for a pretty shocking life.”
“What is wrong with saying no? It feels like we parents are afraid of saying no to our kids so we won’t hurt them.”
The funny thing is I really agreed with the parents who disagreed with the post. I actually wrote a post a while back about teaching early obedience. One of the things I talked about was teaching the word “No” from an early age.
The point of discovering useful phrases to use in place of the word “No” was never meant to say never, ever use the word “No.” Far from it actually. It was really meant to help parents avoid a few extra power struggles throughout the day. To help days run smoother and offer a more positive energy over things that simply were not worth battling over.
Those parents are right. There are some very valid reasons why you should use the word “No” when parenting…
Because it’s about safety.
It’s that moment when every mother’s heart begins to sink. It’s that moment when your child is about to grab a knife or touch a hot burner on the stove. It’s that moment when your child gets really close to bad fall off a steep ledge. It’s that moment when your child gets close to water, and they cannot swim.
I know you know these moments. We all do. This is the time when “No” and “Stop” become so, so important. Kids need to know what the word “No” means and they need to know to follow your instructions. They need to obey. Because let’s be honest; kids do things every day that might seriously harm them and it’s important to protect them.
Because sometimes kids need a reality check.
I am all for positive parenting, using redirection, and phrasing things creatively, but sometimes you need to set a very firm boundary and just stick to it. Kids don’t need to be coddled every step of the way, especially when you know they are just pushing the limits to push the limits.
Just the other day my son was throwing a big fit over wanting to watch TV at dinner time. I could’ve easily used the phrase, “I know you really want to watch TV right now, but it’s time to eat dinner.” But that day…oh that day was just a mess. It was as if he was pushing me all day long. So in that moment, it was simply a firm “No” end of discussion.
There is nothing wrong with laying down a firm “No” and ending the discussion right at that moment. Been there, done that.
Because kids are going to hear “No” in real life all the time.
Rejection and the word “No” is something that kids are going to hear both in their youth and well into adulthood. That’s just part of life. As parents, it’s our job to guide and teach and prepare our kids for the real world. It’s not helpful to never, ever teach a child the meaning of the word “No.” Nor is it helpful to avoid using it in every single instance.
I think of just a few times I was told “No” in my life…
Can I eat cookies for breakfast? No.
Can I have a video game system? No.
Will you go to prom with me? No!
Applied to a college my heart was set on? Rejected!
Desperate to get a job I wanted? Lots of No, Nope, Sorry.
Because your child will love you for it.
Kids thrive on boundaries. They are looking to you for structure, guidance, and discipline. I can’t tell you how thankful I am that my parents set rules, limits and boundaries for me as a kid. I’m so thankful they taught me the meaning of the word “No.” It set me up for success into adulthood in so many ways. Years down the road, your child will be thankful that you cared enough to set limits, even when it wasn’t easy.
The point of all this.
“No” is a part of real life and that is something every child needs to learn throughout childhood. My husband and I use the word “No” in our parenting on a daily basis. Our son does something every. single. day that compromises safety and pushes boundaries.
The point really is that if you feel like your day is filled with small power struggles, there are creative tools you can use in parenting to make things easier on you, your child and your family. It’s a way to create a more positive rhythm in your home.
And isn’t it all about finding a balance between the word “No” and a few alternatives to make life better?
Want more on parenting?
- The Parenting Differences We Should All Ignore
- How to Help Toddlers Cope with Big Emotions
- The Secret Only Moms of Toddlers Really Know
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