by John Adams
Learning to tell a child ‘No’ is one of the many challenges parents have to face and conquer. A parent’s love is unconditional, which is why he/she wants to fulfill every wish of the child. Although the sentiments are understandable, it is not practical or feasible to succumb to every demand of the child. It is important to draw the line between ‘want’ and need’. Many parents cannot get themselves to say ‘No’ or simply regret it when they do.
Divorced parents subject to joint child custody struggle the most because they feel guilty. They cannot provide their child with a picture perfect family, so they try to compensate with all the material things their child demands. Young children are naturally self-absorbed, but they can be taught to consider another person’s feelings or situation. Telling your child ‘No’ can be difficult and lead to radical reactions, but it is necessary for healthy growth and development.
If you never tell your child ‘No’, he/she will miss upon very important lessons of life. When the child gets older, he/she won’t be able to accept or cope with rejection and disappointment. Some parents unwittingly spoil their child and assume that everything shall fall into place once they reach adulthood. They let the child betray their own values and then expect him/her to turn out disciplined, cultured, and obedient. Spoiler Alert: It does not work that way. Here’s the right way to tell your child ‘No’ and sculpt him/her into a sympathetic human being:
Be Direct and Persistent
When children ask for something, they need a definite answer. Stalling them with words like ‘maybe’, ‘probably’, or ‘perhaps’ is not a good strategy. Unless you say a firm ‘No’, they will keep badgering you until you give in. Once you say ‘No’, do not turn back. Your child may break into tears or try to convince you otherwise, but you have to stay strong. Do not fall for the puppy dog eyes or the ‘pretty please’, no matter what (it’s a trap!). If you admit defeat, the child will strive to get his/her way every time.
Don’t Flare Up
Children that are not used to hearing ‘No’ may say or do outrageous things. When you refuse to waiver from your ‘No’, they might accuse you of being unfair or mean. They will paint you as a villain, but you must realize that they don’t mean it. Many parents feel guilty when their child says hurtful things and appears heartbroken. Trust me when I say that things get better eventually. You are not a bad parent, unless you lash out. You might feel attacked and angry when your child retaliates, yet you have to keep your calm. Do not scold or punish a child who is already going through explosive emotions. Give them some time and space to settle down; later, remind them how much you love them.
Provide an Explanation
Explaining to the child that why you said ‘No’ is often effective for preventing a tantrum. Sometimes children get annoyed or frustrated when you refuse something without an apparent reason. For example, when you tell the child that they can’t have more cookies after dinner, also mention that too much sweets will cause tooth decay and then they will have to visit the dentist. You can also say that too much cookies will upset the stomach and make them sick; and then they will have to eat bitter medicine to get well.
Maintain a Balance between ‘Yes’ and ‘No’
According to child specialists, saying ‘No’ all the time can be injurious to the child’s mental health. Say ‘Yes’ more often than you say ‘No’. Every child deserves to try new things, make mistakes, and have some fun. Let your child explore and experiment from time to time; being overprotective or excessively strict could leave a negative impact on their personality.
John Adams is a paralegal who writes about emotional and physical issues faced by children and adults. He helps his readers overcome personal injuries and traumas, by encouraging them to raise their voice. He aims to reach out to individuals who are unaware of their legal rights, and make the world a better