Parenting-Keeping ‘no’ to a minimum for maximum impact


Participants in one of the parenting workshops organised by the NCC

This was driving Alice crazy, and so she wanted to pick up a few tips to get her daughter to do what she wanted.

So how can parents avoid overuse of the word ‘no’ when relating to children, and  still get the message across that some limits have to be respected?  The NCC proposes some positive alternatives here …

Be sure to tell your child what she can do as opposed to what she can’t do. Instead of “no running!” try “please walk”; instead of “no jumping on the bed” try “bed gets broken when jumped on. Please jump on the floor cushions”, or “Let’s keep our voices, down instead of - No shouting.”

For example, “I’m worried about dirtying the carpet. Let’s take our shoes off in the house” will elicit much more cooperation than “no shoes in the house”. Start by trying  to avoid the ‘No’ word and rephrase all your correctives in positive language:-

Say,“Let me think about it” Instead of an automatic “no”, you always have the right for time to think about your decision. We often make better parenting decisions when we’ve allowed ourselves time to think about what we’re really being asked, and what response we want to give.

“Yes, later” works well when you want to delay something such as ice cream before dinner.
“Yes, you may after your home work is done”, “Sure, you can go and play after washing all the dishes.”

“Not today” tells your child that the possibility is open, but the timing is wrong.

“When we’ve finished with…” (insert your task of choice) then we can … (insert your treat of choice).” This technique is especially good for transition times, for example: “When we get to aunty’s place, then we can have cakes.” This also works great to establish a routine and help young children discover the order of events in their world: one event often follows another.

 “Yes, if you have enough money with you …” You’re getting across the point that your child can purchase whatever he/she wants -  but you’re not paying for it.

Remember, children will be children. So parents should understand that their minds are active and when they are engrossed in a project, or having fun at play, they may not want to stop so they say “No”.

When possible, meet your children halfway – “OK, we can stay for five more minutes. Then it’s time to go home and take a bath,” or “Alright, we can read one more book before bed.” Compromising with your child will teach them that reasoning with you is preferable to whining and acting out.

It’s better to save your ‘No’s for absolute safety reasons. See what a difference it makes in the cooperation of your children!

The NCC conducts parenting workshops on a monthly basis at its centre, to provide parents with strategies and tools to communicate effectively, strengthen their relationships with their children and keep them safe from harm.  Requests from workplaces and community organisations can be organised in the respective localities. The next parenting workshop will be held on Thursday February 28 and parents are encouraged to book their places in advance on telephone 4283900.