The Art of Saying No


IMG_9576“Mommy, I ate two bites of breakfast. I’m full. Can I have a candy?”


It’s dawning on me that I say no a lot. I mean, a lot. The word “no” dominates my household, on countless occasions. When I’m not saying no, I’m probably giving a derivative of the word, along the lines of, “Not right now,” “Maybe later,” or “Ask me in five minutes.”

My child is learning, or has learned, that all of those, from the mouth of his mother, also means no.

I tell my child no more than I tell him yes, because I’m raising him into adulthood. I’m raising him to understand the difference between right and wrong. Oh, and, my word is law. I am Mommy, Queen of the Household, Demander of All Respect.

Man, I love that title.

Therefore, if I say no, I mean no, and there’s always a reason behind my stance.

Sitting around, pondering the purpose of the word “no” in my parenting techniques, I begin to think about the reasons, the meanings–the value in that one, tiny, simple word. It is then that I pop over to Google. I love researching my musings, and my beliefs about parenting. Usually, I’m widely unpopular. My beliefs move in direct conflict with every parenting book I’ve ever read.

I remember reading about the ramifications of using, or overusing, the “no” word with children. The premise, in terms of psychology, is to find other ways to tell a child no, without actually saying the word “no.” As parents, we can–and do–say no, without saying no. I do, too, on many occasions. However, there are actual strategies that can be put into place, if I can remember, so that we, as parents, do not actually say that heinous word.

Ways to Say No, Without Saying No

1) Redirect.

Move the child to another location, and away from the undesired object and/or activity. Because, children hold no short term memory, and a one year old will not remember where the socket is if you confuse them by lifting them up, twirling them around, and plopping them two feet away from the beckoning electrical holes.

2) Talk them to death.

Tell them why they are not allowed to eat the fifteenth lollipop for the day. Rotting teeth, painful cavities, morbid obesity rates, adult sugar cravings, nutritional values, caloric intake. You know, all things a three year old cares about hearing.

3) Distract.

Con the child with a non desirable object. It will make them forget about the object in question. You want Mommy’s phone? Let’s try this obvious toy, which carries no true value, because Mommy never plays with it, but you’ll totally love it.


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