Saying ‘No’ To a Child!

Its human nature to dislike the word ‘no’. And yet, we seem to use it again and again on our children.

No, dont touch that switch

No, you cant have another chocolate

No, you will not go to bed in that red skirt

No, you will not get chips for breakfast.

and more and more ‘No’.

Personally, I firmly believe, that children should be denied stuff which is not needed for them. I believe that as a parent, I should be letting my child know that enough is enough. Giving the child whatever they ask for often results in a child having unnecessary expectations. As a parent, you may satisfy ALL the demands of the kid, but what when the kid grows older. Will the child be able to accept ‘no’ from others? Wouldnt it hurt the child’s  sentiments?The other day, R wanted to see a dance video on RD’s phone. I told her either I read her the book now or she watches the video since it was getting late for bed. She opted for the video. I asked her again, and she opted for the video saying she DOES NOT want to read the book. I left it, climbed up and closed my eyes.

After 7-8 minutes of the video, she came to me, snuggled up and said ‘Amma read the book’

I told her I couldnt since she chose the video. She pleaded, cried, threw a tantrum, but I held ground. Finally I told her, if she wanted I would read the same book TWICE the next day, but at that moment, she wasnt getting it!

She realised I was not budging and just went off the sleep. My point is, as a mother, I felt bad about depriving her the joy of reading, but again as a mother, I had to teach her that you cant have the cake and eat it too!

Over the years, I have learnt that no one likes to hear no. What people prefer (people here includes children and adults) is perhaps an alternate to the no.

To teach a child not to draw on the walls, but you could perhaps give them a corner with white paper stuck on it to draw.

Instead of chips for breakfast, you can ask them to eat a bit of it during the day

Instead of chocolates everyday, ask them to eat it once or twice a week, telling them the problems of eating too much chocolate

Instead of the red dress, give an alternative between three other dresses and explain the red dress can be saved for an occasion

and get the drift eh?

Giving an alternative to the kid makes them feel that they are not denied stuff.

I am no expert in parenting, but I am making a conscious effort, to teach the brat, that she cant have everything in life, and yet there are other things in life which she can look forward to.

Baby steps for me, but I hope it teaches her some facts of life!


Cross posted on IMC


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51 Responses to Saying ‘No’ To a Child!

  1. Santulan says:

    It is difficult with kids. Because you cannot reason with kids in the same way as you can reason with adults (well, at least some adults). Kids don’t appreciate the the harms or wrongs that may happen from let us say eating a bar of chocolate every day, or not brushing your teeth well and so on.. On top of that they throw tantrums and cry. This is most parents’ kryptonite, as they can’t see the kid crying. But sometimes you have to be firm for the long run..

    THen there are expectations you cannot meet. “Mom/Dad that girl in class got those new adidas shoes, (which cost 5000) and I want one pair too” Now not everyone will be able to afford such things (or something different depending on how much disposable income they have).

    • R's Mom says:

      Peer Pressure is the most difficult thing to handle with today’s generation…I agree!

      • Smita says:

        Kal hi I was having this discussion with my MIL where as usual she was having doubts about the school where we have put Arnav (no writing for next 3 years?) and I told her that it is not the kid who wants to learn all the things in this world but it is us as parents who compare pur kids to others and put pressure on them for excelling. In the process we forget that we ourselves detested this pressure as kids!!!

  2. Agree. Have always done and still do the same.

  3. Beautiful post, RM! I will surely keep this in mind for later use. 😉

  4. Sumana says:

    Very true RM, sometimes it takes a lot of effort to inculcate the good habits in them as simple as brushing the teeth, washing hands after playing, atleast gargle the mouth after eating a chocolate etc. But a limit for things has to be set otherwise there is no end to their wants…I sometimes sound like a Hitler at home saying no to every other thing they want, but at the end of the day, i convince them that it is for their good. But many a times the little fella has tons of tantrums to throw… Like Santulan says, peer pressure, i do see that as well. Like, Why should i come home at 7pm when the other kids in the complex play till 8pm? Why cannot i buy a gear cycle when X who is my age bought the same???

  5. chaitali says:

    Let me admit, i am learning parenting from you 🙂

  6. Smita says:

    I am with you on this. The biggest blunder that we as parents do is that we give all that the kid wants and then say they have turned adamant. As I say dil pe patthar rakh ke sometimes we have to decide something and then we need to stick to it.

    What u r following is good parenting and giving pointers to all first time parents like me 🙂

  7. Great post as usual, RM. It is so difficult to get the tiny minds understand why a No is said to their wishes. But, like you say, an alternative works most times! 🙂

  8. Ramya says:

    Completely with you on this RM… Infact I believe this slowly instills the courage to face the disappointments in life cycle. Go to school, 2 kids can share n play with same toy or no one gets it or both get it one after other… For this we need to start at home. Afterall we parents are just telling whats good for them by refusing to budge. If our child wants to touch fire, we obviously would say ‘no’. It does only good for them.

  9. Ramya says:

    Hey on a different note saw this : and remembered you first 🙂 you got to write a post on this 😉 Happy seeing it…

  10. Nidaa says:

    Funny how I got the assignments Taming Toddlers Temper Tantrums & Engaging Toddlers while no a long drive today and I read this.
    This is a super-duper help. Thanks RM.

  11. Zephyr says:

    The best teacher is experience and of course amma’s training when you were a kid, right? Check out: One of the early posts when you had not started reading me 🙂

  12. Deeps says:

    Completely agree with you! Sometimes it does become hard to say No to your child, does make you feel guilty for depriving him/her of whatever it is that they are asking for.but yes if I am to choose between feeling guilty and teaching my child to know her mind well enough to be appreciative of what she gets, I’d any day choose the latter.

    I’m loving the topics you’ve been covering on parenting of late, RM. I may not be getting enough time to leave comments on all the posts I read, but I want to tell you that I’m enjoying them thoroughly. Even read the post, where you gave a fitting retort to a blogger who wrote about outsource parenting. Can’t tell you how much I love what you said! Keep such punching posts coming 😀

  13. My Era says:

    Totally agree with you on this, maybe it’s time I did a post on similar lines.
    Thank you RM for this post, it sure assured me that am on the right track 🙂

  14. paatiamma says:

    This is a good parenting tip RM and a good tip to adults as well. To see the alternatives instead of just getting or not getting what one wants. My Mom used to tell that children throw tantrums for getting attention to get what their want. And letting them cry off to sleep and then cuddling in the morning will make them understand that tantrums don’t work. I grew successfully as low maintenance child.

  15. Reema Sahay says:

    Yes, I know what you mean. With a toddler I face that situation all the time, and I can’t even make him understand a lot of things. And yet I do this too what you did [about book and video]. We have to be clear that we mean what we say. Hmm…and regarding those crayons on the wall. I wonder if they are taught this before they are born. How do they decide they must write on the wall!!!??? I gave crayons to my 2-year old, after coloring here and there, he decided to check it out on sofa and the walls. I told him ‘No’ but frankly I have not decided how to deal with this situation. The first thing is I really don’t mind him doing this. Yes, honestly. He is not going to do this forever, is he? Moreover, if it is not really harming anyone, should we say ‘No’ is the question. But for the moment, we are going to get a board for him and deal with this situation but I really don’t want to be a disciplinarian.

    • R's Mom says:

      Its a tricky situation Reema..some people believe its totally fine to let your child colour on the walls, because like you feel, its not going on forever is it? but my Amma NEVER used to let us draw on the walls, I think, more because my parents couldnt afford to re-colour the walls hehehe 🙂 so its okay I long as you are comfortable with it

  16. Ashwathy says:

    One of the best lessons learnt in life is the art of saying ‘no’ politely. 🙂 It goes a long way. I am sure R will learn to listen to it, as well as use it in life eventually.

  17. Comfy says:

    I do the exact same thing RM. Give choices, let them pick and then stand firm when they want the other too.
    And then some things are non-negotiable. There is no going to bed without brushing your teeth, no matter how tired you are. Hands have to be washed after coming home. A meal time is just that, for a meal, no snacks during that time. Once you finish everything on your plate and still want a snack, that is fine. And so on.
    As parents we have the final say in what is right of our kids and we should exercise that right, rather than let our kids string us along. Kids are very smart and once they sense weakness, they will manipulate you every single time. Stay strong for things you think are right for them and for you as a family. My very basic parenting strategy.

  18. Its okay R’s mom. Children learns how much to expect by pushing their limits and negotiating. Historically (in their small life) they have observed that crying and pleading have made the adults bend, so they use these options again and again. Once if you can show them that those options does not work all the time and for all reasons, it will mature them better. In our home we are going through strong process of controlling the time of watching TV and reading story books even at weekends, for the 9 years old. Earlier I was more interested in instilling reading habit in her and so I did not mind her reading, but now she is reading all the time and is not doing anything else like drawing or does not want to go out with us in the weekends. So we had to budge in, control the time, after lots of tears/negotiation etc. we are seeing small drawings, some craft work and a more interactive child coming out of the book reading cocoon. I was bit sad to initiate the ‘control’ as I like to read myself but now I am happy to see a chirpy child again with interest in more things in life 🙂 Parenting is 100% on the job learning 🙂

  19. Did I tell you that in general it helps to tell them the consequence or reason behind the “No” you are saying. She knows that any “NO” regarding safety and health and wellbeing has to be obeyed. For all other things we can talk on the “NO” and there are mostly long discussions, which is tiring at times but we both learn to listen each others views! She is turning into a strong negotiator but I want to make her that for her adult life, I feel we were taught only to obey and that is not helpful as an adult specially at work place 🙂

    • R's Mom says:

      yes yes…I do let R know the consequences of why I say no to her..I didnt do it earlier, but now a days, I think she agrees faster if I tell her why I am saying no

  20. Amit says:

    I believe it is extremely important to let your child know that there are some rules that have to be followed.
    I see too many spoilt brats around me handled by equally spoilt parents.

  21. pixie says:

    I completely agree with you RM!!
    My mum always says that a child should know the art of accepting a “no”.
    Else, they will grow up to be entitled and spoilt adults.

    You are doing an awesome job and Hugs to you and R! 🙂

  22. telugumom says:

    So true RM! I go through the same thing everyday and I feel eventually kids do know that they will not get everything they want. It is VERY hard sometimes but, they’ll thank us in the future 🙂

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