How To Say No To Your Child?
Created by Anurima Updated on Feb 26, 2020
‘’NO’’ is a word that can be said without any effort. It is a power-packed word and is certainly an underrated one in a parent-child relationship. I am guilty of saying No when it is convenient and often without thinking from my child’s perspective. There have been times when both my children simultaneously decide to throw tantrums especially in a public place and in between all the commotion I lose my cool, my ability to think straight and instead of trying to calmly handle the situation, I have been guilty of saying no to everything they say.
Ways to Say No to Your Child
Aarti, a mother to 7-year-old Vicky, exclaims, ‘my son goes out of control when we visit the mall. He throws a fit and we end up giving in to his wishes by buying him a new toy just to save us from embarrassment. Now he has thousands of toys which he doesn’t play with. How do we handle his outbursts?’
This kind of question is very common. Parents often give in to their children’s demands just to quieten the child and save the parents from embarrassment in public. This behavior often starts young and if parents give in to the tantrums even once, the child takes it as a guaranteed tactic, which will work each time. If such a situation arises in a public place, the following tips could come in handy:
Offer Solutions or Alternatives:Tell your child that if she stops the fit, then you could go and have an ice cream or go to the park later in the day
- Offering alternatives or having a few options wherein your child can choose what she would like to do instead will help control the situation and also help your child to look forward to something else
- A direct No is not a good solution as it does not help your child to think positively
Listen and Discuss Calmly:We can easily get side-tracked with our idea of not giving in to the child’s demands but sometimes, listening and explaining to your child, may help to manage the situation by coming to a mutually agreeable solution
Explain Beforehand:Before reaching the public place, you may explain to your child what you expect from her
- You may list out the do’s and don’ts and ask your child to repeat them. I have one of these sessions with my children each time we plan to step out and also remind them on the way
- This way, they get used to the rules and if at all they decide to play up, a gentle reminder helps them stay calm
Setting Expectation:Little children cannot distinguish the right behavior from the wrong. All they know is how to behave based on past experiences
- Hence, sitting down with your child and explaining why they should not expect a toy/chocolate/candies/gifts or stay at their friend’s place after an evening of playing together will help them understand your point of view
- Your child may also share her feelings. This is a great way to get started on positive communication and changing any negative behavior
Motivate Your Child:In a situation when your child is throwing a fit, you know what you should do, but the easier way out is to give in. But as we know that giving in is not the best solution for the long run
- We don’t have to be strict and firm all the time as this may create a fear among the child and she may be afraid to share their thoughts
- Helping your child understand what is expected and if she does as told over a few instances, you may give in to your child’s wish for playing that extra 10 minutes, or having that remote-controlled car
- But again, the child needs to understand that she got to stay longer at the park because they listened and did as expected over the last week
- Giving in to their wishes should be like a reward. This will only motivate them to listen to you and tantrums will gradually be a thing of the past
Ensure Consistency within the Family:Have a chat with the other members of the family and convey what, as a parent, you think should be done. Hear out their views but gently draw a line and take control of certain situations. It is important to have consistency from all the members of the family
Be a Role Model:If you want your child to behave in a certain way, it is important for us to behave appropriately for them to be able to follow and pick up the right behavior. For instance, we have a rule of no chocolates after 6 pm. Once my daughter caught me eating a piece of chocolate just before dinner and questioned me on it. Guilty and worse, caught red handed, I apologized and immediately told her that it will not happen again. Surprisingly, my apology made quite an impact on her and she does apologize too each time she makes a mistake. I could easily say that I am her mother and can do what I want or ignore her completely, but that would not set a good example and I would most certainly have the same behavior back from her
Tips to Handle An Outburst in A Public Place
Don’t Shout:Scolding or shouting will only agitate your child and will wind you up. Keep calm instead
Don’t Try & Reason with Child When in the Middle of an Outburst:Your child is most likely to take every word you say negatively when at the peak of the tantrum. So let the storm pass before you think of talking to your child. Go to a quieter place to help your child get over her emotions
Anticipate & Prevent Trigger Factors:The big trigger factors for outbursts are hunger, tiredness or boredom. Carry snacks along, leave at a time when your child is not likely to be tired, for example, after a nap; if your child is bored of walking around in the mall, take her outdoors for some fresh air, or go to the play area for a few minutes to help them get over the boredom
Don’t Get Physical with Child:Sometimes parents get overwhelmed and can raise hands on their child. It is common among parents with older children, who talk back and ignore the parent completely. It is easy to get the frustration out with a few slaps but in the end, what we are teaching the child is to handle an angry situation with aggression
Keep Calm:It used to be a nightmare for me to take both my children out to the play area or the supermarket. Either one would throw a fit or the other would follow suit. I have, on a couple of occasions, let my anger take over and have either shouted at them, grit my teeth, or freeze up completely. Well, with each instance I realized it wasn’t the best way to deal with the situation. So I tried being calm instead and talk to them once the tantrum was over. Staying calm and consistent is the key to diffusing any heated situation
Give Consequences for Bad Behavior:Good behavior should be rewarded and bad behavior should have consequences. If your child decides to play up, then you may warn her that there will be, for example, no T.V time if they continue with the behavior. If the warning does not work, then the child does not get to watch T.V for a day or two, depending on the severity of the behavior. It is important to stick to the consequence and follow it through as told to the child, else she will know that mummy or daddy will never follow through and that they are just empty threats
Signal Your Child:You may convey to your child that there will be a change in the activity in 5 minutes
- For instance, if you would like to return home from the park and your child wants to play a little longer, instead of upsetting her by taking her away without a warning, you may instead signal by saying that we will leave for home in another 10 minutes
- This way the child will have some time to wind up with the playing, say bye to her friends also, more importantly, be prepared to leave without a fight
‘Bye-bye’:Babies and toddlers love to experiment and anything can become a toy. You may find your child playing with the bottle of perfume. It is, of course, necessary to take it from the child right away, but if you snatch it out from your child’s hand, it will only upset her and result in a temper tantrum. Instead, gently tell your child that it is time to say bye-bye to the perfume and let her put it up on the shelf. It is very likely that the bottle of perfume will get a few kisses and a long goodbye. This trick always works with my two-year-old
Pocket Money:To avoid your child from crying for a new toy each time you step out, you may get a little piggy bank and encourage her to save some money. Once there is enough money to buy the toy, your child can have it. This will also teach her the value of money and gives them a sense of independence
Don't Avoid a Situation:Roshni does not take her daughter to the mall as she cannot handle the child’s behavior. The 2-year-old pulls out clothes, shoes, toys and throws them around. It is a nightmare for Roshni. She has not taken her daughter to any store for about 4 months now and does not intend to do it anytime soon. What I would say works, on the contrary, is taking your child out and facing the situation together. Explaining the rules, what is expected from them and gentle reminders will show their results even though the first few trips may feel like a complete failure of efforts
Children learn very quickly and if faced with similar circumstances, they will know what is expected and behave accordingly.
Did you find this blog useful? Please share your experiences and thoughts on this topic.
| Feb 04, 2014
Good and very useful article Anurima. The pointers are well explained. Yes we as parents need to be cool headed when handling kids but at times you need to show your bad side to them. I have often regretted my actions towards my daughter but I do make up for it whenever she pays heed to my instructions. We need to balance between being good and bad depending on situations. But more so be calm as you rightly pointed our we are their role models to social behavior.
| Feb 09, 2014
My daughter all Of nine is an avid reader and wants books all the time. In addition to the piggy bank approach I have started with the Earn Your Book Approach wherein she earns a star for something good she does Eg study well, behave well etc. At the end of thirty points she gets the book...
| May 20, 2014
My son is going to 4 yrs soon, no matter how many rules or explanations done he runs of to buy the Dino toys. It gets very frustrating at times, but I keep calm. His tantarums can last really long. Once we are away from Toy shops things get ok, but until then it has to be his tantarums. I try luring him to different things or talk to him saying he already has similar toys. Believe me kids learn so quick, everytime I have to try something new to make him understand. Most of the times I manage it well, but sometimes have failed too. So I guess we eventually learn to tackle our kids and its an evolving process were not only kids even parents learn.
| May 20, 2014
My 5 yr old know that if I say no than there is no looking back. i appreciates him for his good behaviour and awards him accordingly. And its a rule that nothing is provided due to stubborness, Toy or anything is provided if there is any appreciation move and it happens frequently,
| May 20, 2014
Very well written article. Sometimes kids test your patience to limits. The key is to not give in and take charge of situations in a manner that they understand. With my 5 year old hyperactive kid, we make him do tasks by calling activities a game. The challenge gets him charged up to do simple tasks like picking up his stuff and doing home works. Appreciations work and simple rewards like drawing a star on his hand or favorite stickers are great morale boosters
| May 21, 2014
Hi anurima . It was really awesome reading thru ur article. I have a daughter of 2 yrs n 11 months and a son of 1 year. Though my children r quite well mannered n we'll behaved but sunrises my daughter hits her younger brother . Tried out various ways to stop her but 2 out of ten times she ends up hitting him. Plz help. Another problem is that my daughter understands English n constantly uses these words like shut up n stupid to anybody which I dislike. How can I say no to her? Have tried various ways of ignoring her, not talking to her etc. it works for a limited time n she starts again. Plz help. Thanks
| May 22, 2014
Very nice article, very useful tips, many of these I am practicing also, I attended some HR sessions organized by my company, there I learnt many things. I have one daughter, she is ten and one son he is 1 yr 9 months. My daughter is very sensitive and obedient and she always listen to me, I have never seen her tantrum for anything, I am a working mother and whatever she wants she asks for it very gently and give me sufficient time too, she never demands anything adhoc. She is very caring and polite by nature too, I feel very lucky to have her. But my son is too much naughty, he is totally opposite to my daughter. Its gonna be very tough to raise him :)
| Jul 01, 2014
thankyou. We stay abroad from India. The culture here is different. My son plays with all the kids in the park,but he always wants them(specially,kids elder to him) to be adjusted with him. When it comes to younger ones to him, he shall help them a lot. this is causing a bigger problem here and some parents(natives of this nation) are very angry with us. How to handle this?
| Jul 04, 2014
Dear Yamini, we too are settled abroad and I get what you are saying. It is normal for kids to behave this way and very rarely do kids adjust between themselves at playtime. How old is your son? You may try to help him understand how he should behave with the older children. Cite examples to help him relate to the incidents and he may try to react differently next time onwards. But on the other hand parents need to understand that fights and disagreements between children playtime are always not due to the fault of one child. So I suggest you take it easy and do not worry about the other parents. Children will learn to adjust to various situations with time with or without intervention by the parents. But gentle reminders may help too. Good luck :)
| Jul 19, 2014
my 4 yr son misbehave a lot when other kid visit our home or he get company of other child.. he misbehave bcoz he get over xcited.. many times i tried to xplain him that he should not hit other kid,talk softly but nothing wrks.. when ever i go out for shopping n all even that time also he misbehave he wont listen anything we say,which is very embarrassing... plz help how to handle this?
| Jul 22, 2014
Hi Shruti, a behaviour on the play field or the ground when a child gets excited on the playground is not to be taken too seriously--most children behave like that. leave that to the children themselves. They will learn on their own or else will be checked by his friends. But his not listening, when in your company and in a public place, is a different thing. Here a bit of firmness will be required. Instead of scolding him in front of others, take him away from the spot, sit down at his level, look straight into his eyes and tell him firmly what is expected out of him. Do not scold or insult him but tell him how he should behave and how his behaviour is hurting papa and mumma. Do not worry about others staring. Once a while giving him a time out also helps
| Feb 07, 2015
Thanks Anurima for very nice explanation! I have a issue my daughter 2. 3 years through lots of tantrums at me while eating, she takes 40-45minutes to finish one meal and I loose my temperature. I have told her if she doesn't eat fast I'll lock her in bathroom with lizard in and did few times and then she finishes fast but the terror of bathroom is going away what to do please give some suggestions. Thanks
| Apr 27, 2015
I have a son 4 years old... As parents we do lose our patience and tolerance at times.. we do scold them also... My child picks all that talking style and talking tone and even complete lines very quickly and give us back at time.. Like "how many times have i told you that..... " He wud come back during tantrums or otherwise also "how many times have i told you that i want this" or " dont kno whats wrong with you" If i teach him you should do your work yourself. He would even tell me that if i just pass on a TV remote just lying by his side. All this is getting tough... its tough to make his attention divert. He is too good in such memories and too smart to apply them
| Jun 25, 2015
Very good article , completely agree with it , now I have to control my anger and try to become friend of my baby