When your Child says ‘No’

Tired of asking your child to do something and getting a ‘no’ in response? Here are some ways of asking which are more likely to lead to cooperation – and when they don’t, options for dealing with ‘no’ without getting stuck or stressed.

In the video (60 seconds)

One strategy to use to help get cooperation from your child. More information in the longer video below.

In the video (7 minutes)

More discussion of why our children say ‘no’, and what we can do to bring connection rather than conflict.

A manageable thing to try

I hope the strategies in these videos will give you some inspiration and new things to try which will start to shift ‘no’ situations. Ultimately though, you may find that you are still finding yourself getting wound up or stuck when you are in the thick of difficult times with your child, and all the strategies in the world won’t help.

My experience is that I have needed to find a comprehensive approach to help me build the deeply connected relationship that I want to have with my child. Though I still lose it – as I did this morning trying to get out of the door to school, I get very few of the ‘no’ challenges in the first place, and when I do get them, I can usually deal with them differently. Those tools need much more explanation than I find possible in one or two videos, but they are there. I say this to offer reassurance that it’s a common experience to see things you don’t like in how you are parenting, and not know yet how to change them.

In the meantime, one thing which can really help is to work on the piece about resourcing yourself. Think about what really nourishes you as a parent. If you feel guilty about taking time and space for yourself, remember that when you don’t, your child or partner or someone else almost inevitably ends up paying for it. If you find yourself thinking that you simply can’t find the time and space given the age of your children / how much you have on being a single parent / the pressure of work / the admin that’s needed to make life happen / the pressure your partner is under, I invite you to challenge yourself to look at whether there are small steps you can take. Could you relax your rules about TV and sit them in front of a screen for an hour? Could you say ‘no’ earlier to what your children are asking you? Could you do something which works for you even if another parent might make judgments about what you are doing?

Further reading

Transformative Parenting: Why Children Say ‘No!’. I love this article. I rarely read things which I agree with from start to finish, but this is one of them. It covers the developmental importance of ‘no’, how ‘no’ doesn’t signify an underlying lack of connection with our children, and 3 simple steps for dealing with ‘no’, including the suggestion to ‘collect’ before you direct.

Inbal Kashtan: When a Child Says ‘No’. How to hear a child’s no, and how with repeated experiences that give the child confidence that adults respect his needs as well as their own, he will steadily develop greater capacity for considering others’ needs and acting to meet them.

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