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Not many people like hearing the word “no,” especially kids. When a parent says “no,” it can make a kid feel crushed. Yes, it’s a bit dramatic. But for a young child with big emotions, it can feel like the sky is falling when they don’t get what they want.
Even when you want to say “yes” to your kid, sometimes you have no choice but to give them the bad news. If you’re tired of using “no” as your default, there are several ways to put a positive spin on your response.
Stop, Think, and Listen to Them
Kids want their parents to hear their brilliant ideas. Before you lay down the law, give yourself time to think about what they asked you. What would you think if your kid asked, “Can I eat my spaghetti and meat sauce in the bathtub?” Admittedly, your gut reaction would tell them, “No.” However, it’s not the worst idea considering the main entree is particularly saucy. There will almost always be a positive outcome for every “bad” idea. If your kid eats their messy dinner in the bathtub, at least you’ll avoid bright-red stains on the carpet!
Try giving your kids the benefit of the doubt. They may surprise you with their intentions, no matter how silly their idea may sound.
Give Your Child Choices
Sometimes, your child will have an impulsive idea. In even rarer cases, your child will ask you before they act on their impulses. When your kid asks to play “Poke the Bear” with the neighbor’s elderly cat, it’s time to give them some choices.
“Sure! You can risk getting bitten and scratched, or worse. Or, you can say “hello” to Mr. Kitty from across the street and befriend him from a distance. What do you think is a better idea?”
When you give your child options, it gives them a chance to think about the potential outcomes. Giving your child choices will help build their critical thinking skills.
Be Honest About Things
Sometimes, kids need to know the truth. Some situations might be more challenging to explain than others. However, it’s best to be transparent, so your kid understands why you say, “no.” Even the youngest of kids deserve a simple explanation. There are times when you must say “No”, but these times can become a positive growing experience for your child.
Your child may not fully understand your detailed reasoning for saying “no,” and that’s okay. Use short and simple sentences with easy-to-read body language. I promise that difficult conversations become easier with time and practice. Both you and your child will eventually find your groove the more you talk with each other.
Offer Positive Feedback
Children live and breathe on the positive feedback we provide them. When they know they’re doing something right, their face beams with pride! While we love seeing our kid’s smile, it can quickly fade when we tell them, “no.”
By offering positive feedback after saying “no” to your child, you can ease the damaging blow to their feelings. When your child asks, “Can I help water the plants?” it’s a lovely gesture… until you remember the time when they killed all the houseplants after guzzling several gallons of water right on top of them.
After many soaked towels and disposing of the houseplant casualties, you can say, “You are so generous by offering to care for the plants. I have an idea, though. Let’s pick your very own plant. I’ll show you how to make it grow, just as fast as you are.”
Be There for Them and Say, “Yes!”
Parents are busy individuals. Many moms and dads resort to saying “no” to their kids when they’re feeling stressed. Finding the time and patience for our kids can be challenging. Feeling this way is entirely normal, but remember this; kids are just kids. They learn by feeling and exploring their senses as they grow. What isn’t new to you is likely very new to them.
As I mentioned before, take a chance on your kids when they beg to try something new.
Be there for your kids, physically and empathetically. It’s easier said than done, but I can promise you this; no matter what happens, both you and your kids will walk away with memorable stories. They’ll tell their friends how cool you are as a parent. That, right there, is one of the greatest gifts you can ever give your kids.
I hope this advice has provided you more insight about saying “no” with a positive spin. By following these positive parenting methods, you’re on your way to developing an even more beautiful and healthy relationship with your child.