Mar 27

5 Definite Ways to Get No Across

We all say “No” to our children.  And with every situation being a little different, sometimes it’s difficult to know just the right way to say it.  Being a father to a 4 year old, I consider myself a master at the art of ‘no’. Here are 5 common techniques that are used by beginner parents, as well as the seasoned pros, to get this jewel of a sentiment across.

  1. “No means no!” This is incredibly helpful to a child who originally didn’t understand you when you said, “no”.  It’s used to clarify in the off chance that your child, who you’ve said “no” to hundreds of times, suddenly forgot it’s meaning.  This method of explanation works for pretty much every single verb in the human language, too.  For example, “run” means “run”…it does!  This can even work with entire sentences. For instance, “put down that knife, nobody needs to get hurt” means “put down that knife, nobody needs to get hurt”! Fascinating.
  2. “How many times do I have to tell you? NO!” This is a rhetorical question, used to express frustration in the amount of times a parent has said “no”.  It is generally more effective as a means to vent to your child, than to elicit any kind of behavior change.  Use this method only if you have younger children.  Tweens and teens will most definitely get their answer from the following simple formula: ANSWER=(Times “NO” has already been said)+1.  Followed by your immediate response, “Smart ass!”
  3. “If I have to say no one more time…” This threatening ‘no’ is perfect for those times when you are almost at your wits end, but just don’t have the energy to follow through on any discipline.  Normally the parent will end the sentence here without actually informing of any actual thing that will happen if the ‘no’ comes out, for instance: you’ll go to bed without dinner, I’ll take away a privilege, I’ll liquidate your college fund and send you to military school.  Be very careful with this tactic because if it is done incorrectly, without the bulging eyes and a threatening tone, you may find yourself reverting to #2.
  4. “No no no no no no no no no no no” Done in an urgent, panicked, machine gun fire, this method is used to gain the attention and stop a behavior immediately.  It used for stopping a child from things like writing on the couch with a Sharpie; drinking a glass of day old milk; throwing a cat out of the window.  This startling technique can work, but only if you freak your child out enough with the inflection of the rapid fire “no” to get them to turn around and halt the behavior.  The end result is almost always going to be a pissed off child.  Nobody likes to be startled this way.  Especially a child who was about to test the cat landing on it’s feet theory.
  5. “When I say no, you LISTEN” This is one of my personal favorites.  It gives a crystal clear ‘to do’ on top of the word ‘no’.  Although the ‘to do’ is something quite difficult for most: listening.  It is my understanding that children don’t develop their listening capability until they are in their mid 30’s.  It’s different for men, though, who never fully develop this ability.  (personally I think listening is like an appendix.  It’s there, sure, but do we really need it?)  This is a great technique for kick starting the listening mechanism in your child.  Unfortunately, too many times we see this technique followed quickly by #1, and then #3, with a #2 thrown in for good measure.

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