We’ve all done it. You say “no” about ten times and then, you give in to your child; you don’t want to have to continue the discussion, it’s really not a big deal that you let your child win “this time” or you caved because you have an incredible difficulty saying the word “no” (especially when your child tilts his/her head and looks at you with those gorgeous eyes and innocent smile). It’s amazing how quickly one can actually say “no” without hesitation to that pesky telemarketer calling your house during dinner time or when someone knocks on your door and wants to give you a “free” estimate on your roof. When it comes to saying “no” to your child, you suddenly forget how to use that same gall that comes over you when a sales associate wants you to sign up for the store credit card and save 15% on your day’s purchase.
You may be guilty of surrendering to your child, but you’re not alone. Sometimes, we feel forfeiting a debate with a child over having four cookies instead of two is a lot easier to deal with than that pounding headache you’ll have later on if your child doesn’t stop whining. Other times, your child will continue on about wanting to go play outside or for you to buy that new toy and believes the longer as well as the louder they whine, the more likely you’ll cave into them. These instances make it more difficult to stick with the “no” and not give in to terminate their annoying grousing. You cannot be defeated by the length and volume of their bellyaching. Repeat that last line (as many times as needed).
Every time your “no” becomes a “yes”, children take note. Children are rather clever human beings when it comes to manipulating the situation to get something they want out of you. With every new demand, they will repeat the behaviors that were successful in their last quest. They’ll hear your “no”, but continue to push their boundaries and your buttons until that “no” becomes a “yes” again. You want to avoid setting this precedence because it is a hard habit to break and can be incredibly frustrating.
One of the only ways that you will improve your “no” skills is to keep saying it (when appropriate, of course). When your child asks for a new toy ten times, remain calm and stay strong by replying with a “no” ten times. If your child persists, try explaining why you are saying, “No.” Use age-appropriate language to convey to your child why he/she can’t get that new toy. You can also employ giving the child hope that it’s possible he/she can have it in the future. By saying something along the lines of “I can’t get you that new game right now, but maybe you can put it on your birthday wish list”, you are more likely to diffuse your child’s fussing and distract them; begin talking about what they want for his/her birthday party or for a holiday gift (something that you don’t have to worry about at that moment). Distraction works extremely well with children, especially when you want to take their attention away from a situation that will cause them to fuss and onto something that brings them joy, excitement or requires their active participation.
You may experience a difficult time saying “no” to your spouse, significant other, own parents, friends or that little cute Girl Scout trying to sell you cookies just as you do with your own child. This may occur because you’ll feel guilty after you say it or you may think others will think negatively of you. Maybe, it’s just something you need to work on entirely. It could very well just be that adorable child of yours that gets you every time. Regardless of the reason you have trouble saying “no”, you have to improve your ability to do so when it’s necessary. You don’t always have to say “no”; maybe it really isn’t a big deal that your child has four cookies instead of two because he/she never really eats sweets or it has been quite a while since your child has been given a new toy (you can afford it and he/she has been really well behaved). When you say “yes” and “no” at the right times, you’re setting boundaries for all of you and that can make for a lot less headaches and a lot more smiles.