It’s hard for a parent to say “no” when everything our children see in our culture today promotes “yes.” Advertising companies make and spend billions of dollars every year to get us to say “yes.” Our classroom teachers, who have been trained to say “no” in a variety of acceptable ways, have been replaced by Hollywood writers, video game producers, the music industry and other business cultures promoting “yes.”

Yes Is In and No Is Out

Unless you and your family live in a home built in a remote part of the country, where there are no billboards, televisions, radios, Internet, mail and other modes of advertising, your children will be exposed to hundreds of promotional ads each day. In fact, each year the average child in the United States will be exposed to over forty thousand ads on television alone. Ads promote the words, “Yes, you can!” Credit card ads sell the idea that parents can “buy it now” for their children even when it’s not in the family budget.

Does this sound familiar?

“There are some things that money can’t buy, for everything else there’s...”

The purpose of this credit card ad not only promotes the ideals centered on giving your child whatever he or she wants, it sustains the “yes” culture that our children have become accustom to living in. Living in this culture is not difficult. In fact, for parents it’s often easier to say, “yes” than it is to say, “no.” When a parent says “yes,” the word often leads to:


What parent would not want this for their child? We want our children to be happy. But, does giving our children what they want lead to a lifetime of happiness? You do not need to read another research study that tells you that giving your child what she wants will not lead to life-long happiness. You already know that’s true. You already know that instant gratification is not gratifying. You already know that your child needs to hear the word, “NO!”

How to Say “NO” and Survive?

Before you begin using the word “no” more often, consider the following helpful hints:

Use the words “I love you” with your child as many times a day as they ask or want something. This caring phrase does not to be used as a response, but should be used several times per day.

Turn television time into reading time. The average child in the United States watches over seven hours of television per day. Replace promotional ads with the promotion of literacy.

Make an effort to listen to your child. Eat at least one family meal together each day. This promotes family time. This promotes listening time. Another idea: Turn family television time into family game time.

Keep track and, if necessary, reduce some of your child’s activity time. Many children are stressed! Stress often leads to addictions. Addiction leads to a need to have something. That something requires a “yes.” Be mindful of your child’s stress levels. Many children (and parents) today are doing too much. Slow down! Begin saying “NO!” to more activities.

Keep a list on the refrigerator of items that you buy for your child. Have the child keep a list of all the times they ask you for something beyond the basic needs (food, shelter, clothing). Contrary to popular teen opinions, a cell phone is not a basic need.

Finally, sit down with your child and hold a discussion on this topic. Your child will most likely be a parent someday. Sharing this article with your child, especially your teenager, will help him or her become a better parent someday. When your child sees that you are doing the right thing by saying “no,” the child will learn to become comfortable with this word too.

Author's Bio: 

Scott Wardell is the creator and author of ScottCounseling offers parents hundreds of free parenting articles and online e-mail counseling services.

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