What to do  when your child says ‘No!’ to parental requests

By Mekhala Joshi

June 01, 2022

First, take a pause

Take a moment before you respond. Observe your emotions and thoughts. It will help you understand what you are bringing to the table and see the situation from your child’s standpoint.

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Get to your child’s level

Avoid towering over the child and get down to their level to make the child more comfortable and receptive to what you want to say.

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Involve the child

Invite the child to share their thoughts and feelings. Ask them probing questions to understand the reasons behind ‘No!’

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Validate the child’s emotions

You may not want to hear ‘No!’ but that does not invalidate your child’s opinion. Emphasise with your child first, connect with them so that they feel heard and more willing to listen to your perspective.

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Rephrase your request

It may help to rephrase your request in a more positive form. You could say – "I want you to (action – eat healthy food) because (it is good for your body)" – making it difficult for them to say ‘No!’

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Maintain your terms

Point out that rules are mandatory and need to be followed. You could say something to the effect of – "I love you, and this rule needs to be followed".

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Get to a 'Yes!'

Give your child two equally desirable options to create the illusion of control. For example: "Would you like to eat peas or carrots?"

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Reflect upon your approach

Observe your behaviour – check if you say ‘No’ often. Clarify the difference between ‘non-negotiable’ and ‘negotiable’ rules to your child. Set clear expectations and reinforce them consistently.

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