Tired of Saying “NO”


As parents it is the one word we feel like we say most often.  It is the word we get so tired of saying it we wish we lived in a world where we didn’t have to say it ever again. NO. No you can’t have cookies before dinner.  No you can’t stay up past your bedtime.  No you can’t break curfew.  No you can’t borrow the car.  No you can’t hit your brother.  No you can’t use bad words like that.  No you can’t….and the list goes on and on and on and on.

Being the mother of a 2 year old I use more than my fair share of the word “NO”.  Some days are worse than others.  Some days I can actually get through the whole day without having to use the word “NO” much at all.  Other days, well other days I might as well record the word “NO” and just play it on a continuous cycle!!  What I have learned in my short time of being a mom is that I get a better response if I am creative with my use of the word “NO” or if I spin into a positive somehow.  Changing things up a bit breaks up the monotony and saves me from feeling like all I ever do is say “NO”.

Kids get tired of hearing the word “NO” as much as we get tired of saying it.  As time goes by our “NO” loses it’s punch and our kids start ignore those “NO’s” they hear over and over again.  Kids like to hear “YES” every now and then.  They like to feel like there are things in this world that they are allowed to do.  We can understand that can’t we, I mean adults like to hear “YES” every now and then too, we all do.  By being a little creative with our use of the word “NO” we can all get a little bit of what we want.  So, here are a few creative ways to spin your use of the word “NO” so that you say “NO” less often and “YES” (or something else positive) more often.

  • Instead of saying something like “No, you can’t do X until you have finished Y.” try saying “Yes, you can do X when you finish Y.”  It sounds easy enough, right?  I use this one a lot with my daughter.  She responds a lot better if she hears it as a positive rather than a negative.
  • If your child is doing something they are not allowed to do, say throwing a ball in the house, tell them where they can throw the ball while you are telling them can’t run in the house.  For example, “Remember,  throwing the ball is an outside game.  You can throw the ball outside.”.  It helps if you can then give them the opportunity to follow through and head outside to throw the ball around for a while.
  • Be specific when you are telling your kids to stop doing something.  Instead of saying “No throwing food” or “No whining”, etc.  Say things like “Please stop throwing your food.” or “Please use nice words to tell me what you want.”  Taking the word “NO” out of the equation may just get you better results.

The idea is to try to avoid saying “NO” so that you don’t feel like that is all you ever do and your kids don’t get tired of hearing it and stop responding to it.  Of course, in the middle of a heated moment it may be difficult to remember to spin your “NO”, but if you try to do it most of the time the few times an actual “NO” comes out won’t seem so bad.

What do you do as a parent when you get tired of saying the word “NO”?  What spinning techniques do you use?

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One comment on “Tired of Saying “NO”

  1. That’s sort of what I do with my children. They do wonderful with the “Once you do this you can do that”

    Instead of flat out saying NO, I generally say “How do you think it would make whatever feel if you did this” Generally, the kids respond better with this sort of suggestion…..mine do anyway.

    But your post reminded me of a chapter in Kelly Corrigan’s new book Lift……when she describes things her girls want to do and she feels the word form in her mind when she hears the inflection in her daughters voices. It’s cute. You should read it. Good fast read

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