The Gerber Life Parenting Blog

Saying ‘No’ To Your Child

December 1, 2014

Child PoutingHow to help children understand the difference between a “need” and a “want.

No matter how uncomfortable it may be, all children need to hear the word “no” at certain times. Without such limits, children don’t learn the self-discipline they need to succeed in adulthood, and they may even develop a sense of entitlement. Unfortunately, telling your kids “no” sometimes can be difficult, especially if they react in anger.

The information below can help you make the process a little easier for both you and your child.


Need Versus Want

One of the best ways to deal with a child who doesn’t like hearing the word “no” is by teaching him or her the difference between something that is necessary and something that is desired. Once the child understands this concept, he or she will be less likely to throw a tantrum when you deny a request that isn’t really that important.

Begin by explaining the concept as simply as possible. Next, engage your child in activities that will help him or her practice distinguishing between needs and wants. For example, ask the child to make separate lists of things that fall into each category. Alternatively, you could encourage the child to flip through a magazine and identify various items as “needs” or “wants.”


Saying “No” in a Positive Way

Children tend to react badly when they hear the word “no.” However, if you frame your response correctly, the denial becomes less traumatic for the child. For example, instead of simply saying “no” without any explanation, take the time to explain why your child can’t do or have the thing he or she wants. This helps the child to understand your decision, which reduces the likelihood of a fight. You also can ease the child’s negative feelings toward your decision by offering a suitable alternative. For example, if your daughter wants you to buy her an expensive toy that you can’t afford, suggest that she save her birthday money and make the purchase herself.

Likewise, in cases where you must give a temporary “no,” give your child hope by reminding him or her that the answer can change in the future. For example, if your son asks to eat a brownie before dinner, tell the child that he can’t eat it now, but that he can have the treat after eating a healthy meal.


What other ways have you found to be effective for saying “no” to your child, in a positive way? Share your feedback with us on Facebook.

Comments are off for this post
Categories: Parenting Tips
Please note: Articles and other information included on this website are intended for the general interest of our readers, and are not intended to express the positions or views of Gerber Life or to provide or constitute, legal, financial, health or other advice. Gerber Life makes no claims, representations, or warranties as to the accuracy, completeness, or appropriateness of this general interest information for your particular circumstances. If you need legal, financial, health or other services, you should contact a duly licensed professional.