Do you say “no” too often?


How many times in a day do you hear the word “no” escape your lips? Do you feel like all you ever do is say “no” to your child?

There are some parents who are so legalistic in the training/teaching of their children, that they say “no” much more often than they say “yes.” Do you fall into that category?

If so, imagine life from your child’s perspective. Yes, many times when we say “no” it is valid. Whether the child is being unsafe or flagrantly defying our instructions, saying “no” to our children is perfectly fine. But how about all the other times in the day?

I’ll be honest, I sometimes feel like my husband and I say “no” to our kids too often. There are many times when it’s warranted, but then I try to imagine life from my kids’ perspective. It can be stifling. It can create an “us vs. them” (children vs. parents) adversarial mentality. Really, when they’re just curious about something and not hurting anything, we should just allow the behavior.

So when you’re tempted to say “no,” stop and ask yourself if any of the following are true of the behavior:

  • Is it unsafe?
  • Is it hurting anyone or anything?
  • If it continues, will it bother you?
  • Will it lead to long-term behavior problems?
  • Does the child know when and where the behavior is unacceptable? (For example, if you allow a child to hold his lovey during dinner, does he know it’s inappropriate to bring it to a restaurant?)

And finally, ask yourself if any of your child’s misbehaviors are a direct result of the fact that you say “no” too often. When our kids feel stifled, they often act out because of it. When they are denied every bit of freedom, some children will try to get it in any way they can.

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