The word “no” will always be an oft-repeated word in a parent-child relationship. While admittedly tiresome, many parents continue telling their kids no when they want something that, in one way or another, breaches certain limitations they have set. The problem is, many kids have a hard time accepting those “nos”, and resort to tantrums and screaming. Parents, on the other hand, then take to yelling, making threats or being harsh just to get that “no” across.
The thing is, getting kids to cooperate without yelling, threatening or treating them harshly is very much possible. Here are some ways to say no to your kids and get them to accept it.
Kids will follow when it’s part of a routine
Do your kids have the habit of leaving their toys around before dinner? Then make cleaning them up and returning them to their rightful places a rule. If kids make excuses about it, stand your ground and say as cheerfully as you can, “no, they must be taken care of before dinner because that’s our rule.” Pretty soon, cleaning their toys up will become a part of their routine like brushing their teeth or washing their hands, even when they’re initially opposed to the idea.
Make those limits firm
Setting limits is part of your job as a parent, but those limits have to be firm, or our kids will always find a way over time to make us adjust those limits. You can listen to their arguments and even think about reconsidering if those arguments are valid, but you still have to be firm about those limits. Be kind about it, but be firm nonetheless.
Accept their unhappiness about those limits
Kids naturally don’t like those limits, and will express it in any way they can. However, it’s ultimately better to just let them express those sentiments, and for us to accept them as they are. After all, they are still going to have to follow those limits, and they don’t really have to like them. When we’ve allowed them to express their unhappiness, that will be a load off their shoulders, and they will find accepting those limits and moving on a bit easier.
Impress upon them that it’s their well-being we care about
We interact with our kids every day. In all that time, we naturally strive to establish trust in the relationship, that everything we do—from providing for them to telling them “no”—is rooted in the fact that they are all for their happiness and well-being. Once this trust is established, kids will more easily accept our “nos”, knowing we have their best interests at heart.
Make saying “no” more fun
That may sound a little ironic, but it is very possible to say “no” to your child in a fun way. For instance, you child wants to play with his/her toys longer, but dinner’s already on the table. So you make a game out of getting to the dinner table, like who gets there faster or something akin to that. Or, you can make cleaning the toys up a contest, like who gets to put the most number of toys back to their place in 2 minutes. While this can prove to be very exhausting when done on a daily basis, making saying “no” fun can make a huge difference in the way they take those “nos” from you.
Say “no” by saying “yes”
Now this may sound silly, but you can actually say “no” to your kids by saying “yes”. While setting your limit, find a way to say yes. “Yes, you have to clean up this mess, and I will help you do it” is a good way of doing this. “Yes, let’s make cleaning up your room more fun, and I’ll be with you every step of the way” would be even better. The more generous and loving we are in setting those limits, the more generous your kids will be in following them.
Strengthen your connection with your kids
When your kids won’t listen to you no matter what you do, maybe you need to forge a much connection with your child. After all, children only listen to us because of who we are to them. Whatever influence we have on them is heavily dependent on how connected they are to us.
There are a number of things you can do to strengthen your connection with your kids. For one, let’s set limits and rules while empathizing with their situation at the same time. Tell them that you recognize his/her wish to play late into the night, but he/she has to go to bed early because tomorrow’s a school day. For another, it would absolutely be enjoyable to engage in horseplay with your child every now and then. That daily laughter will certainly be stuck in both of your heads for the rest of your lives. And when he/she cries because of a “no” from you, welcome those tears and hold him/her close. Without a doubt, your child will be more connected with you, and getting cooperation from them will become easier.