Creative ways to say ‘no’ to a child

4th Jul 2018

Do you feel you’re constantly saying ‘no’ to a child’s demands and requests? Chances are, if the child is ignoring you when you say ‘no’, you might be saying it too often.

This can be a huge problem as you try to teach the child right from wrong, as well as trying to keep them safe.

That’s why we’ve put together some creative alternatives to saying ‘no’ to help regain your child’s attention whilst avoiding using the same word over and over.

Distractions are your friends – If you notice that the child is about to misbehave, or a difficult situation is approaching, try asking questions or pointing out something of interest to divert their attention.

Keep it positive – Instead of saying, ‘No, you can’t do that’, try rephrasing the statement into something more positive i.e. ‘Remember, we don’t throw things in the house, but you can take your ball outside.’ Or ‘It’s not nice to pull the cat’s tail. It’ll hurt him/her.”

Avoid ‘no’ situations – Where possible, you might benefit from trying to avoid situations where you have to constantly say ‘no’ to the child. Choose your activities carefully to ensure that they’re appropriate and safe for the child and you’ll find that you can both relax a lot more.

Are you being reasonable? – Sometimes we forget that children are just being children and are not purposefully doing things we might not like. Children love to explore, to discover, to create and to express themselves and sometimes this can lead to messy situations or things we might not necessarily like. It’s important to ask yourself, before you say ‘no’, whether the action/activity you want to stop is actually harmful to your child or a bad behaviour, or whether they are just learning. I.e. If your child/charge wants to wear their favourite dress-up costume to the shop, why not? If they want to splash in muddy puddles, will it really cause any harm?

Offer alternatives – Just like we’re doing here, instead of saying ‘no’ to your child/charge, try offering them an alternative. If they want to play outside but it’s raining, explain that it’s raining but ask if they’d like to play a game with you or read a book instead. This can also be helpful with food. If your child/charge asks for a sugary drink or snack, remind them that it’s not healthy and offer them grapes or a banana instead. Allow them to make their own choices and praise them for it.

Be stern – Sometimes saying ‘no’ is unavoidable, especially in dangerous situations. It’s important that you make it clear that you’re serious at times like this by raising your voice, saying the word sharply and keeping a clear expression. Remember to also reward your child for doing as you asked with a hug and praise.

Good luck!

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