There are good reasons why parents seek alternatives to saying “No” to their children.
One is that saying “No” often makes some parents feel that that they are being too negative.
If this is your parenting issue with “No”, try instead to inform your child of the reason why, and of what he can do instead for an outcome he wants.
For instance, if your child asks for a cookie before bedtime, instead of saying, “No” you might briefly explain: “The sugar would keep you up. But if you stop asking for a cookie now you can have one tomorrow for sure.”
This way of responding ends on a positive note instead of a negative one.
It also supports child development of the consequential thinking ability as you clarify the undesirable consequence of what she is requesting, and the desirable consequence of accepting your decision.
By NOT saying “No” you might avoid triggering an automatic, oppositional reaction to that word.
At the same time you motivate your child to cooperate by stating the positive outcome she can expect by accepting your decision.
A more subtle motivation for parents wanting an alternative to using “No” can be traced back to their own early childhood conditioning.
Parents actually set up their children to have a problem saying “No” in adulthood by making that word a sort of taboo for the child to use in the parent-child relationship.
If you react with angry intimidation when your toddler says, “No” to you, you are subconsciously programming your child to fear using that word.
This can produce a teen and an adult who has a hard time saying “No” and establishing appropriate boundaries.
To avoid hindering the child development of boundaries establishment ability, practice maintaining your composure when your child tells you “No”, whatever the child’s age.
This does NOT mean you have to let your child do whatever she pleases no matter what. Just don’t make the word “No” a dirty word.
This leads us to another reason why parents seek an alternative to using the word “No” with their child: the child ignores it.
One cause of kids ignoring our “No” is that we may unconsciously teach them to do so through modeling.
While automatic compliance with your child when she says “No” to you would represent the antithesis of wise parenting, there ARE times when a child’s “No” is being INAPROPRIATELY ignored.
For instance, if you like holding your kid upside down despite his sincere pleas for you to stop, you are teaching your child to ignore YOU when you want him to NOT do something.
There are many other ways that we can inappropriately, and in some cases abusively, cross a child’s boundaries and ignore the child’s spoken and unspoken protestations.
Beyond other ways that this hurts the child, it hinders child development of a clear sense of appropriate and even safe boundaries. This results in a senseless disregard of his own responsible behavior limits, and a sort of “deafness” in response to another’s spoken and unspoken protestations.
Bob Lancer is a parenting and child behavior / development expert. He presents parenting education seminars to parents at schools, conferences and businesses around the world, and offers free parenting advice at his website: http://www.thebestparentingadvice.com. He is the author of the book Parenting With Love and the host of the radio show, BOB LANCER'S PARENTING SOLUTIONS, broadcasting to 35 states over AM and FM radio.