Parenting

How To Say No To Your Child?

Anurima
3 to 7 years

Created by Anurima
Updated on Feb 26, 2020

How To Say No To Your Child
Reviewed by Expert panel

‘’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:

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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

  1. Don’t Shout:

    Scolding or shouting will only agitate your child and will wind you up. Keep calm instead
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. ‘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
  9. 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
  10. 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.

This content has been checked & validated by Doctors and Experts of the parentune Expert panel. Our panel consists of Neonatologist, Gynecologist, Peadiatrician, Nutritionist, Child Counselor, Education & Learning Expert, Physiotherapist, Learning disability Expert and Developmental Pead.

  • 147
Comments ()
Kindly Login or Register to post a comment.

| 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.

  • Reply
  • Report

| Feb 06, 2014

Good one Anurima. I use the piggy bank idea and also explain my 4 yrs old before stepping out. Even she politely say's no if i explain her how to use the existing toys. And i also tell her the consequences of bad behavior.

  • Reply
  • Report

| Feb 06, 2014

Thanks Anurima. Even today morning I lost my control and slap my kid. After that i feel very distress and couldn't concentrate in my work. Next time i defenitly try your advice.

  • Reply
  • Report

| Feb 06, 2014

g

  • Reply
  • Report

| Feb 07, 2014

My 4 year old is very stubborn at times... will try the softer way with him.. Thanx

  • Reply
  • Report

| 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...

  • Reply
  • Report

| Feb 12, 2014

Very well written and helpful article

  • Reply
  • Report

| Feb 12, 2014

Thank you ladies for the wonderful comments. It feels great to see how the blogs helps in parenting :)

  • Reply
  • Report

| Feb 13, 2014

Really good one... helpful in parenting..

  • Reply
  • Report

| Feb 15, 2014

Good

  • Reply
  • Report

| Feb 17, 2014

Thanks Manveen. Could you share which tip you like the most?

  • Reply
  • Report

| Feb 20, 2014

Thank u for this wonderful article i will surely follow this with my 2yrs old daughter.

  • Reply
  • Report

| Feb 21, 2014

really a good article... personally, I liked the bye-bye concept.

  • Reply
  • Report

| Feb 25, 2014

Wonderful article...

  • Reply
  • Report

| Feb 27, 2014

Very Nice and helpful article... will try the bye bye concept and will follow to be calm.

  • Reply
  • Report

| Mar 04, 2014

I have a 4 yr old son and this article is really really helpful for me. Thank you

  • Reply
  • Report

| Mar 05, 2014

Superb article .. Very well written n compiled !!.. Thank you so mch !

  • Reply
  • Report

| Mar 05, 2014

very nice article i will try to follow it as somewhere in your article i see my self in some instances

  • Reply
  • Report

| Mar 13, 2014

Thanks a ton for these pointers gonna be great help for me.. :-)

  • Reply
  • Report

| Mar 13, 2014

Thanks a ton for these pointers gonna be great help for me.. :-)

  • Reply
  • Report

| Mar 14, 2014

very helpful blog! thanks Anurima

  • Reply
  • Report

| 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.

  • Reply
  • Report

| 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,

  • Reply
  • Report

| 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

  • Reply
  • Report

| 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

  • Reply
  • Report

| 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 :)

  • Reply
  • Report

| May 22, 2014

Thanks a lot for this blog. i facing almost the same problem with my 4yr old son. it will hepl me further really.

  • Reply
  • Report

| Jun 25, 2014

Thanks very useful

  • Reply
  • Report

| Jun 30, 2014

very nicely explained...... thank u for all these useful information it is a great help for raising a child

  • Reply
  • Report

| 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?

  • Reply
  • Report

| 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 :)

  • Reply
  • Report

| Jul 12, 2014

thanks anurima.

  • Reply
  • Report

| 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?

  • Reply
  • Report

| 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

  • Reply
  • Report

| Jul 26, 2014

thanks

  • Reply
  • Report

| Nov 26, 2014

Very nice and informative article..

  • Reply
  • Report

| Nov 27, 2014

Hi Varsha Kesarwani, Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  • Reply
  • Report

| Dec 03, 2014

Well Written article ... Very useful... Thnx for sharing

  • Reply
  • Report

| Dec 16, 2014

Vry gud article... I liked bye bye concept d most

  • Reply
  • Report

| Jan 08, 2015

Though, .not a mum now, but still, like reading all your articles. All of them are so informative. Hope I can also apply them once I have kids of my own & also faced with any situation.

  • Reply
  • Report

| Jan 09, 2015

Meghna, thank you for your feedback. Yes, I hope that the articles and blog really help you and the other parents in various situations. :)

  • Reply
  • Report

| Feb 03, 2015

Hey meghna.. My daughter is around 3 n is really stubborn at tym she is just so out of control especially in front of my in laws or my parent she knows dis so well ifom says "No" either of democracy will avail her demands.. I just get pissed off.. Please help

  • Reply
  • Report

| Feb 05, 2015

Thanks Anurima... very useful article!!

  • Reply
  • Report

| Feb 06, 2015

Hi apoorva You may also ask your query from fellow experienced parents on parent talk section. Here is the link- https://www.parentune.com/parent-talk/latest

  • Reply
  • Report

| 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

  • Reply
  • Report

| Feb 09, 2015

Hi dear thanks its really a fabulous information nd one following it vl definitely get positive results

  • Reply
  • Report

| Feb 10, 2015

Hi Jhalak Sharma. You may refer to the video, why my child takes an hour to eat. Click - https://www.parentune.com/video/details/?v_id=8

  • Reply
  • Report

| Feb 10, 2015

Very nice article. It helps so many parents.

  • Reply
  • Report

| Mar 03, 2015

Wow such an useful n important article... Thanx

  • Reply
  • Report

| Mar 04, 2015

Very good article the main thing is pracising patience as our kids grow .my elder one is 11 and younger one 7 so sometimes they test me but each day is learning right?

  • Reply
  • Report

| Mar 05, 2015

This is what I needed ,though my 2 year old kid is well behaved ,I needed a guidance thanks for the help and keep sharing

  • Reply
  • Report

| Mar 05, 2015

Very useful article.. Handling my toddler is like pulling a mountain... nw understood the tricks...

  • Reply
  • Report

| Mar 05, 2015

Wonderful article. .my two yr old daughter is in the habit of the throwing everything on the floor ..and this has become her habit... though she is very young but she speaks clearly. .and reciprocate nicely. .but kindly suggest something. .thanks

  • Reply
  • Report

| Mar 20, 2015

Good one.. have noted many points.. thankyou

  • Reply
  • Report

| Apr 02, 2015

good article! Thanks!

  • Reply
  • Report

| Apr 06, 2015

Good points to be notice.... thanks a lot... my son who is 6 and half yes old has become aggressive all of a sudden please help...

  • Reply
  • Report

| Apr 21, 2015

Very nice

  • Reply
  • Report

| Apr 22, 2015

Very informative and all the points are relevant. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
  • Report

| Apr 22, 2015

Very nice n helpful tips

  • Reply
  • Report

| Apr 23, 2015

Hello i m a mother of 4 yr old girl. she never eat anything without watching t. v. pls tell me what i do to change her habbit.

  • Reply
  • Report

| Apr 25, 2015

Really a very nice article.. I was not aware of this before but I have been using the "explain the rules beforehand" concept with my 7 month old baby, from the very beginning, especially when we go for his vaccination..

  • Reply
  • Report

| Apr 25, 2015

Thanks Very useful !!!!

  • Reply
  • Report

| Apr 25, 2015

Thanks Very useful !!!!

  • Reply
  • Report

| Apr 26, 2015

Nicely articulated

  • Reply
  • Report

| Apr 26, 2015

Really a Nice & Usefull article !!!

  • Reply
  • Report

| 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

  • Reply
  • Report

| Apr 28, 2015

Hii my girl is three years old.... she never eats properly or right amount because of this only I loose my temper I tried everything no use please tell some steps

  • Reply
  • Report

| Apr 28, 2015

Hi Kalpana Aagale You may get some useful tips and suggestions from fellow parents on parent talk section. Click here to ask your query- www. parentune. com/parent-talk/latest

  • Reply
  • Report

| May 26, 2015

Great article, please share more about children's immunity.

  • Reply
  • Report

| May 28, 2015

Hi.. My son is 16 months old. How to teach him meaning of no. He kept on doing his mischief... which are sometimes dangerous for him

  • Reply
  • Report

| Jun 01, 2015

Nice and very informative. Thank you.

  • Reply
  • Report

| Jun 04, 2015

I have a 6 years old boy and a 15 months old boy. The above rules n tricks works. I on daily basis apply them.

  • Reply
  • Report

| Jun 24, 2015

Helpful tips ,thank u

  • Reply
  • Report

| 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

  • Reply
  • Report