Parenting Tips For Using an Effective “No”

Daylight without night is just day… Yes without No is just Yes…  Obviously, we don’t exist in a universe without limits, boundaries or realities we may not enjoy. We all like to be told yes. Yes gives us what we want.

Nevertheless, life together in families and communities requires boundaries, and respect for perspectives outside of our own.  Tolerance, appreciation and basic learning itself requires that we are open to differing ideas, opinions and beliefs. Co-operation, respect and flexibility are essential for success and values we want for our children.

Which brings us to…. “No!” As a parent, this simple word carries a lot of weight. Yet it seems the more it’s used, the less impact it has. Can you relate? Does your “no” fall on deaf ears? If so, maybe it’s time to look deeper into the message behind the “no.” What are you trying to communicate to your child? How can you help them respond in a positive manner? Let’s look at how to best use your “no” below:


Be Clear and FirmWhen saying “no,” be clear and firm with your child. Understanding why you’re saying no and stand firm in your decision. Use a calm and assertive tone of voice, and avoid being wishy-washy or ambiguous. When “no” is followed by an “okay” or “nevermind,” your child will learn not to take it seriously.
Explain your ReasonsDo you like when you’re told “no” with no explanation as to why? Your child doesn’t either. When saying “no,” explain your reasons to your child. This can help them understand why you are saying no and will communicate that you respect them. It can also help them learn to make better decisions in the future.
Offer AlternativesInstead of just saying “no,” offer alternatives to your child. Give them the opportunity to take their decision into their own hands. This helps them feel like they have some control and can also help them learn to problem-solve and make decisions.
Show EmpathyBeing told we can’t do something can be disappointing. There is a loss of opportunity involved and therefore, emotions that come along with a “no.” This is where you have the opportunity to show empathy for your child’s feelings. You can say things like “I understand that you’re disappointed, but this is the decision we have made.” Empathy will affirm your child’s feelings, as well as build connection within your relationship.

While saying “no” is an inevitable and essential part of parenting, it can also be difficult. At Decade2Connect, we understand the value in setting boundaries for your child and are here to support your parenting journey. And although it isn’t easy, saying “no” adds more value to the opportunities a “yes” brings.

Our Intensive Outpatient Program is in-network with United!