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When a child says “no”, instead of viewing your child as a disrespectful, disobedient child, view it as your child learning to stand up for herself. Saying “no” is an important life skill to have. After all, you don’t want to raise a submissive child who gives into peer pressure. Now, that doesn’t mean giving in to your child’s resistant behavior, but having that perspective shift will help you to respond in a helpful, more effective way than reacting with anger at their “disobedience”.

Some ways to respond to a resistant child:

  1. Connect with your child: Children who feel connected with their parents are less likely to become resistant and more likely to cooperate.
  2. Ask a question instead of giving a directive: “What do you need to do before you can go outside and play?” vs “You need to do your homework first”.
  3. Offer a choice: Offering choices empower a child to cooperate. “Do you want to hop to your bedroom like a bunny or run to your bedroom fast like a cheetah?” or “Time to do chores. Do you want to mop the floors or clean the toilets?”
  4. Teach your child to say no respectfully: “Please say that again more respectfully.”
  5. Respect their “no”: When possible, allow them to say no and respect their “no”.
  6. Provide information: Let your child know why you’re saying “no”. But keep your explanation short so you don’t engage in a power struggle.
  7. Empathize: When a child feels understood, their resistance starts to dissipate. Ex. “I see that you’re angry that it’s time to stop playing with your toys so we can leave. I get it. (Pause) It’s time to get in the car now.”
  8. Find positive ways they can feel powerful: Children feel a sense of power when they say “no”. If you fill that need for power in a positive/appropriate way, they are less likely to say “no” to fill the need.
  9. Limits you “no’s”: Children learn from what we model. If we are saying “no” to them a lot, they will begin saying “no” to us.

Read my post “12 Ways to Say ‘No’ to Your Child (without actually saying the word ‘no’)” and 10 Tips to Teach Your Child to Listen & Comply

My instructor when I went through the program to become a certified parenting coach introduced me to the poem, Angela’s Word, and it’s such an impactful poem that really shows why it’s important to have a perspective shift around our children saying “no”.

XO, Kacie