Alternatives To Saying “No!” and Avoiding the Meltdown

One day it happens. Your cute, adorable, cuddly baby has turned into a toddler. And she’s discovered the word, “NO”! Emphatic, heart stopping, and powerful. The word no is a favorite among children because they hear it so often from parents when they mean business.

Children are corrected many times in a day. That’s a lot of negatively thrown at them. Eventually, the word “No” loses its impact and children get so tired of hearing it, they learn to tune parents out.

How can we avoid overuse of the word “No” when relating to our child, but still get the message across that some limits have to be respected? Try using some positive alternatives:

 

  • “Yes, later.” Works well when you want to delay something such as a cookie before dinner.
  • “Not for _______________.” The child’s name can go here.
  • “Not today.” Tells the child that the possibility is open, but timing is wrong.
  • “When……,then……” This technique is especially good for transition times. “When we get in the car, then we can watch the hot air balloons on the way home.” “When we get to Grandmas, then we can have the ice-cream we brought.” This works great to establish a routine and help toddlers discover the order of events in their world. One event often follows another.
  • “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, ones we don’t regret later, but feel we have to follow through for consistency sake, when we’ve allowed ourselves time to think about what we are really being asked, and what response we want to give.
  • “Yes, did you bring your allowance with you?” You are getting across the point that child can purchase the treat/toy/treasure but you are not paying for it.
  • “Yes, (with qualifier inserted here).” For example, “Yes, you may eat your Easter chocolate after breakfast.” “Yes, you may ride your bike after your homework is done.” “Sure, lets play after the dishes are done.”
  • Perhaps give a reason instead of a “No”, such as “Ouch, hitting hurts people!” instead of “No hitting”!
  • Be sure to tell what to do, instead of what not to do. Instead of “No running!” try “Please walk.” Instead of “No jumping on the sofa.” Try “Sofas get broken when jumped on. Please jump on the floor cushions.” Or “Let’s use our church voices, instead of our outside voices.”

 

There is always a more positive way to state a rule. Personally, when I hit a barrage of “No this, no that.” I start to feel negative and uncooperative. No matter what their age, all people respond better when rules are communicated positively. For example, “ I’m worried about dirt on the carpet. Let’s take our shoes off in the house.” will elicit much more cooperation than “No shoes in the house”. For just one day, try to avoid the No word and rephrase all your correctives in positive language. Save your No’s for absolute safety reasons. See what a difference it makes in the cooperation of your children!

Excerpted from “Attachment Parenting Tips Raising Toddlers To Teens”

Judy Arnall is a professional international award-winning Parenting Speaker, and Trainer, Mom of five children, and author of the best-selling, “Discipline Without Distress: 135 tools for raising caring, responsible children without time-out, spanking, punishment or bribery” She specializes in “Parenting the Digital Generationwww.professionalparenting.ca        jarnall@shaw.ca

 

 

What is Your Child Really Saying? Translating Attitude

Attitude is sarcastic anger. Sometimes, it’s a snarky I-statement or You-statement. If you look underneath, often, it’s a sign that your child is ready for more independence and feels thwarted in some way. Does she have reasonable choices? Can you give her more ability to make decisions? Or does she feel that she never has control over anything? Children want their needs and wants taken care of, just like adults do.

How to handle after-school grumpiness

When looking at sass from your child, try to identify what they are really trying to communicate based on their need or feeling (NOF), stripped of the sarcasm, and then feed it back to them. “You are upset because I’m interrupting your game?” Share your feelings. “When I hear your tone, I feel disrespected. I would like to talk about this. Can we try this again? Here is how you can say what you are feeling. Instead of saying, ‘Whatevah!’ say ‘I’m feeling nagged. Please leave me alone.’ Then I will really hear you. Can you try that please?” Sometimes, you really have to give them the exact words to use, or they don’t know the respectful way to assert their needs. It’s a critical life skill to speak up respectfully so people can know what’s bothering you but still not feel attacked. Or you could gently say, “Do you want a moment to rephrase that?” You could use humor in your response. You could also just walk away and your body language will reveal you don’t want to be spoken to that way. Responding with anger or sarcasm doesn’t teach them anything other than its okay for them to continue that way.

Be sure to model assertive politeness instead of “attitude” yourself. It’s a hard trap to not fall into especially when family sarcasm is portrayed all over the media as cool and desirable. It’s a false representation. If you said, “whatever” to your boss when she asked you why your project was late, I would bet that she wouldn’t laugh. You are the perfect person to teach your children the assertiveness skills they need in life. Start at home!

Attitude Statements Your Child Might Use

You’re not my boss
I hate you
I’m not your slave
I’ll do what I want
You don’t love me
You don’t understand
It’s not fair
This is dumb
I can’t do it
I have rights!
Fine!
Whatever!
I don’t care

Persuasive Statements that Adults Listen To

I’d like a choice
I didn’t like what you said
That doesn’t seem fair
I need to try
I need attention
Please listen to my opinion
I feel capable and responsible
I feel scared, worried, about failing
I don’t know how
Please help me
Please let me have a choice
I’m feeling pushed
I’m scared

Judy Arnall is a professional international award-winning Parenting and Teacher Conference Speaker, and Trainer, Mom of five children, and author of the best-selling book, Discipline Without Distress: 135 tools for raising caring, responsible children without time-out, spanking, punishment or bribery and the new DVD, Plugged-In Parenting: Connecting with the digital generation for health, safety and love as well as the new book, The Last Word on Parenting Advice. She also teaches parenting at The University of Calgary, Alberta Health Services, and is an advice expert for Mothering.com, Today’s Parent magazine, Postmedia news, The Globe and Mail, Global TV and CTV. http://www.professionalparenting.ca (403) 714-6766 jarnall@shaw.ca