Getting Comfortable With Saying “No”

by Parenting Power

p80-Annoyingthingstheydo[1]We talk with many parents who don’t find that saying “no” is an easy thing to do. Some don’t like it, but still find themselves telling their kids, “No,” over and over again, only to be ignored. Others, choose to stay silent or just give in to “Yes,” so that they don’t have to deal with the backlash of denying their children anything.

This Yes/No dilemma is one way that parents teach their children about the concept of boundaries. Boundaries are about respect; respect for self and respect for others. When we clearly identify our boundaries, it shows that we respect ourselves enough to stop people from harming us. It also shows that we respect others enough to be honest with them about what we need. We don’t make them play guessing games about how we are really feeling, we know that they deserve to be treated fairly.

How we set boundaries with our children teaches them how to set boundaries for themselves. If parents allow their children to ‘walk all over them,’ they teach the children to let their friends mistreat them as well.

So how do we make this easier on ourselves?

Step 1. Know your boundaries

Discuss a specific situation with your parenting partner and decide upon your limits for that situation.

Step 2. Talk with your kids about this situation

Whether it is at your regular family meeting, the dinner table, or wherever you can put down electronics and work together, it is important to connect with your kids to explain what is allowed and what isn’t. They may have some great suggestions for how the situation can work more effectively. Be sure that everyone knows the expectations and the consequences for meeting and not meeting these expectations.

Step 3. Say No (less often and without emotion)

This is really the easiest part. When your kids want to do something that isn’t allowed, you say, “No.” You are clear on your boundaries, and you’ve already explained them. There isn’t a lot of talking or emoting required. Of course, your kids may get emotional to try to sway you. A possible response, “I can see that you don’t like that answer. I know you can handle this disappointment.”

Once you are more consistent with this method, you will find that your kids don’t ask you as frequently because they already know the answer and they know that you won’t budge.

You are teaching them that No means No. You are teaching them how to say No to their peers and how to stick to that No.

That’s Parenting!

Julie Freedman Smith & Gail Bell are Parenting Power. They provide parents with strategies to become confident, capable and calm. Contact them at