The Power of “No” as a Parent

N-O- sure is a powerful two letter word. What happens when we use “no” too frequently?

“Say yes more often so that when you say “no” they know you mean it.” These words spoken on Zen Parenting Radio hit home. They made me stop and think about all the times in a day I say no.

As a parent to young kids, I feel like I’m always saying no.

“No, you can’t have another snack.”

“No, we already watched a Goldie and Bear so the TV is staying off.”

“No, I can’t push you on the swing right now.”

“No hun, I’m sorry we aren’t getting the paint set out right before dinner.”

Baby smiling on a swing with hands in the air.

Okay, you get it! The list just seems to go on. These are all true statements that I uttered just today!  I really should make a point of counting the number of times I say “no” verses the number of times I say “yes”. Sadly, I wonder if my “no’s” would be more frequent than the “yeses”. I understand there is a fine line to walk between spoiling your child by giving in to their every whim and begin too firm all the time. But somewhere in there I need to make an effort to find a better balance.

I need to realize that it really isn’t a big deal if they have more ketchup. Just squirt a tiny bit more and move on. And if they want a push on the swing, go do it! I’m going to miss their little giggle as they “fly” on the swing. One day I’m going to be wishing they would want me around. I’m going to be the one begging them to spend time with me!

Or instead of saying no to something they want to do, what about offering up something else instead. “Instead of painting before dinner, let’s grab these crayons and you can draw me your plate filled with your favorite foods!” I need to work on finding other ways of saying things so that I can save my “no” for when I truly mean it. I feel that compromising and relaying my message in a more positive way will have a profound impact on who they are and our relationship!

Mom and three daughters all covered in color from the Color Run.

It’s a goal of mine to start making a conscious effort to say yes more often. Life is too short and they are little only this fraction of a time. I’ve got to loosen up. I’ve got to put a more positive spin on how I approach things. I want my No’s to have meaning when I use them.

Leave the dishes, let the table stay dirty, the toys can be picked up later. Go and say yes! Be present! Say yes to the next book they ask to read or the game they have been begging to play. Do it and you may find that you truly enjoyed it as well. It feels good to let go a little.

Mom and three daughters by a scenic river.

Try it out and get back to me! Count the number of times you say “no” to your child. Then the next day try to find a more positive way to approach things. Tell me what you discovered!!

On a side note, if you haven’t checked out Zen Parenting Radio I highly recommend that you take the time to check them out! I listen to their podcasts all the time. I find myself relating to so much they say! They are so real about everything they discuss and make you really ponder how you are thinking and responding to different aspects of your life! Above is a direct link to their website and here is a link to their Facebook account Zen Parenting Facebook.

I try to make it a point to follow ZPR motto: “the best predictor of a child’s well-being is a parent’s self understanding”

Also for more on behaviors and positive parenting, check out our post about how we use a positive behavior plan on Yes, the Principal’s Kid Can Be Naughty!

30 thoughts on “The Power of “No” as a Parent”

  1. I also realized I was saying “no” too much. My 3yo has started mimicking me with his word choice and I’m hearing a lot of “not right now, maybe later” and “hang on I’m in the middle of something.” I’m now trying to make sure to give an alternative activity. I’ll say “we’re all done with TV right now, but how about we walk to the park?” Things go much more smoothly when I suggest another thing.

    1. It is crazy how much they pick up on our language! I love that you are using alternative suggestions for a more positive approach to things.

    1. I totally understand where you are coming from! We can get so caught up in what we have to get done that we forget!

    1. The balance can be such a struggle! And those days you say “no” all the time I feel so negative and go to bed feeling guilty.

  2. What a great post. I think this philosophy can very well be applied to life outside of parenting. It’s so important to say yes to more and allow yourself and your family to do more of they things they want to and worry less. Being present in the moment is so important these days because so much of the time people are tuned out. Or our first response is to say no. This is such a great post!

    1. I love that! You are completely right! Thank you so much for your perspective and insight!

  3. Saying “no” all the time to my children leaves me and them feeling defeated and super grumpy. Thank you for the reminder to make a conscious effort to giving an alternative to their request rather than just closing down the conversation with “NO!” It’s easy, but life-sucking….. Thanks for sharing!

    1. It totally does leave everyone upset and grumpy and can really set the tone for the day! Thanks for taking the time to read my post!

  4. I’ve definitely learned as a parent to “pick my battles” and have learned to say YES more than NO! It is an important lesson to learn early on and will save you many battles and grief!

  5. Love the idea of offering other options, rather than just saying no. My guys are pretty small, so they don’t ask me anything yet, but I will certainly remember this!

  6. I like this so much! When my son was younger I really made it a point to not say “no” all the time and to use other words like “i don’t think so” “I’m not sure about that” “how about we try something else” that sort of thing and I think it was of benefit!

  7. This is a great reminder! Thanks 🙂

    Hey, if you do find yourself having days where you need to say No more than Yes just rephrase it so that you’re not actually using the work:

    “can we get the paint out” – said by child at 5pm
    “we can get the paint out tomorrow morning”

    And then stick to it.

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