Sometimes, even when you’ve said no for the umpteenth time using your best stern parent voice, your child doesn't listen and still insists on getting what he wants.
“They may beg, bargain, cry, accuse, or demand relentlessly in ways that are wearing for parents. Some parents may give in just to avoid a battle. Others feel guilty for disappointing their children,” says psychologist Eileen Kennedy-Moore, PhD, whose work focuses on parenting and child development, in an article for Psychology Today.
Don’t give in though! “Saying no is an important responsibility for parents. Our nos teach kids important lessons about life and getting along,” Dr. Kennedy-Moore adds. Here’s what you can do so your child listens the first time you tell him no (at least, for most of the time).
1. Just. Say. No. Don’t give “in between” answers like “maybe,” “probably not” or “pag-iisipan ko” just to avoid disappointing or angering your child. Yes, it may prevent a tantrum now, but getting his hopes up only to deny him what he wants later on will only cause a bigger meltdown.
Instead, say no and mean it such as “No, you can’t do that” or “No, we’re not buying it.” If you must give a “maybe” answer, be clear about that too by giving an explanation why, advises psychotherapist Amy Morin, author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do, in an article for VeryWell.
Morin gives this as an example, “I’m not sure if we’re going to be able to go to the beach. We’re going to have to wait and see how the weather looks after lunch.”
2. Explain but don’t try to convince. Say your child wants to stay up past their bedtime to play more. You can say, “No, you have to get ready for bed now. You need to get enough sleep for school tomorrow.” To help get things moving, you can ask your child to choose a book for bedtime or pick out what pajamas he wants to wear.
“It may help to explain to your child the rationale behind your (unpopular) choice, but don’t feel like you have to convince your child that you are right,” said Dr. Kennedy-Moore. “You are, after all, the parent.”
3. Don’t give in. A parent’s love and affection for a child can make it difficult to follow through with a “no” or consequences to broken rules. “Naawa kasi ako, eh,” is not an uncommon excuse. But children need boundaries because it is how they get to learn how the world around them works. Rules guide him towards the right direction.
4. Change it up. If your nos are really not working anymore, reframe the way you say it. “There's nothing magic about the word no. We can say it in a million different ways. In fact, with younger kids it's a better idea to set limits and consequences positively,” says David Walsh, PhD, the founder of the National Institute on Media and the Family, to Scholastic.
“If you say, ‘Don't stand on the furniture,’ all they hear is, ‘Stand on the furniture,’ so it's more effective to say, ‘Please keep your feet on the floor.’ It's not the word; it's a strategy,” explains Dr. Walsh.
5. Don’t say no all the time. There are times when a strict no is necessary such as your child insisting on a “want” instead of a “need” or when agreeing can cause him or someone else harm.
However, learn when to say yes, too. Children need room to learn and grow on their own. “Kids need the opportunity to explore different places and try new things. So it’s important that you grant your child permission to do the things that are good for his development,” says Morin.