Nanny 911: Saying No to Your Kids
"NO!" is a heavy word. It should only be used when something is completely inflexible or where there is imminent danger. Unfortunately though, "No!" is such a reflexive word. Most people don't realize how many times they say it and the impact it has.
Think about it: How would YOU feel if you excitedly said to your partner, "Honey, I was thinking maybe we could ..." And he said, "NO!" before you could even finish your sentence. That's how your kids feel every time you shut them down with a no. What's more, if children hear the same thing repeatedly, with inconsistent consequences, they merely tune it out and go on their merry ways.
Here are five no "No" tips:
- State the facts simply. So if your child asks you to stay longer at his friend's house, instead of saying no, try saying, "We have to go now. But next time, we can stay longer."
- Acknowledge what your child wants. If your child asks you for a cookie at a 10:00 AM (or any non-cookie time), simply say, "I know you want a cookie. After lunch we can have one."
- Rephrase your child's question into a sentence. If he says, "Do I have to go to bed?" You can say, "I know you don't want to go to bed. But it's bedtime and we have to wake up early." Again, acknowledge their request, because all kids (and adults) want is to be heard.
- Create a Wish List. I once took care of a little 3-year-old who was the queen of tantrums. She always wanted something at the store and she'd throw a fit until her mom gave it to her. I had to teach her that was not going to work anymore. So we came up with the Wish List. I kept a pen and notepad in my bag and used to make lists with her whenever she would say, "I want that!" or "Can I have that?" And I'd say, "Great. Let's put it on the list." It worked. I wrote everything down, and she had something to hang on to. She absolutely loved her lists!
- Take a pause. It only takes a moment to stop yourself from saying no. And if you feel yourself getting upset, take a breath. Don't scream, don't yell, just calmly say, "One minute." And if you find yourself too heated, simply excuse yourself.
I know not saying no is going to be hard, but this exercise will help you be a better listener to your kids—and it will help them be a better listener to YOU!
Get more child behavior tips from the Nanny 911 Nannies!