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How to Be an Assertive Parent When It's Hard to Say 'No' to Your Child
  • It is often difficult for moms and dads to say “no” to their children, especially when they just want to put an end to the tantrums and crying fits. But we know that if we keep saying “yes” the kids can grow up spoiled or entitled.

    How to be an assertive parent

    So how to put your foot down? The Center for Parenting Education recommends a more assertive approach where parents can practice their authority while also respecting his personality and point of view. It will also help kids cope with frustration and disappointment on their own, which he can use later in his life. By being an assertive parent, you can discipline your child but still give him a sense of security. Try these 7 tips to embrace a more assertive parenting approach.

    Establish clear boundaries

    Setting boundaries is critical though it may be hard and cause your child to get angry or disappointed. Empowering Parents writes, “Remember: your job is to set the limit, not to control how your child feels about it or reacts to it. So focus on what you can control — yourself and how you act. Tell your child their behavior isn’t going to get them what they want and walk away.”

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    Practice positive self-talk

    Some parents who struggle with embracing an assertive parenting approach may feel like they are being unfair, or they get overwhelmed with the difficulty of their situation. Practicing positive self-talk is a way to stop this cycle and help you become more firm when it comes to following through on the boundaries you have set for your child.


    When you begin to have negative thoughts or think that you are being an awful parent, counter those by telling yourself things like, “It’s okay even if my child is angry with me now because this will help him learn to deal with anger and grow into a mature, responsible adult.”

    Listen to your child

    At times, your little one might also get frustrated or disappointed when he feels like he can’t get his way. Part of the assertive approach is learning to listen to your child tell you about the things that are bothering him and acknowledging and respecting those feelings, which is a healthy way to deal with negative emotions. Calmly help him understand why you are setting those boundaries and how he can benefit from them.

    Give your child the chance to choose

    According to the Center for Parenting Education, giving kids opportunities to have a say in decisions that affect them is one way to practice an assertive approach to parenting. It can be a choice as simple as what food he wants to order when you go out for lunch as a family.

    There are some instances when you will need to put your foot down, such as when he wants to eat a sweet snack instead of the healthier dinner you’ve prepared. Still, letting him choose or allowing a compromise in certain situations shows him your trust and respect for his independence. He is also more likely to cooperate with you if he is given a chance to participate in the decision-making process.

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    Be consistent

    The key to making the limits you have set effective is to be consistent and stick with them. Being inconsistent may lead your child not to recognize your authority, that you don’t mean what you say, and might even take advantage of the opportunity to make you say “yes” to everything. Still, allow some space to be flexible with those boundaries to accommodate particular situations and your child’s unique personality.

    Being consistent also involves refraining from giving your child mixed messages. If you expect your child to behave a certain way one day but then permit him to act the opposite way the next, he won’t understand what your expectations are and what you want him to do.

    Plan ahead

    Empowering Parents recommends parents to inform their child of their intention to set specific limits before starting on it to prepare themselves. Sit your child down and let him know the rules he will need to follow. Inform him also of how you intend to react to any possible attempts by him to sway your decision.

    “It’s helpful to acknowledge how frustrating this is going to be for your child and talk to your child about what they can do to cope with the anger they’re going to feel as part of this process,” the article reads.

    Praise him for positive behavior

    Every time your child practices positive behavior — when he follows your instructions and is cooperative — don’t forget to recognize his efforts. This is a great way to encourage him to continue practicing those behaviors. When he obeys your command for him to clean up his toys or help you finish chores without throwing a fit, thank him and express praise for his efforts.


    Click here to learn about healthy ways to praise and encourage your child.

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