Say “Yes” to the Word “No”

*It’s hard to say “NO” to your kids, because of those adorable faces, vicious tantrums and sometimes because you’re just a “yes” kind of person.

It’s that time of year again when we start to lather our children with sunscreen, adorn them with hats and miniature sunglasses. The days are longer, the air is fresh with flowers and rotting trash confusing our senses, and in the distance we can hear the ever-increasing din of ice cream trucks. These trucks will bring out the inner monsters and sweet angels in our children, the fate of which rests upon the acceptance or rejection of the sweet delectable treat. Ice cream trucks are just one of the many delights the warmer weather brings.

What’s that New York Parents? You don’t want ice cream trucks?

Tip #1: Don’t blame ice cream trucks for your problems with the word ‘no’.

Around this time last year, Brooklyn parents petitioned to ban ice cream trucks, some claimed obesity fears as their cause, others admitted they just didn’t want to say no to their children. I know the “No to the word, N.O.” parents.
Some don’t want to limit their child’s options, believing the word ‘no’ hinders the decision-making process and does not properly address issues of behavior. Other’s may claim these reasons, but in reality are horrified of an embarrassing public tantrum.

Tip #2: Be okay with the N.O. word and use it sometimes. We don’t always have to be accepting of our child’s actions.

At first glance, the “No to the word N.O.” parenting style makes sense. It seems kind, non-judgmental, and most significant, other parents are doing it. But maybe it’s not as simple as being a kind, nice, approving parent, maybe your kids need to hear “no” sometimes.
Let me be upfront about where I stand on this issue, you may have guessed but I am a big proponent of using the word “no.” I always try to couple the N.O. word with explanations, but sometimes a simple “no” is just fine and warranted, especially when your kid is old enough to understand.

Tip #3: Let your kids hear “No” from you first.

While the theory behind eliminating the N.O. word proclaims more opportunity, better decision-making and the belief that a stand-alone “No” doesn’t properly address issues of safety and boundaries, the reality is your kids are going to hear the word from the outside world; other parents, kids, teachers, etc. They are going to face rejection. They are going to cross boundaries and these situations will often be coupled with the word no. So, my question is, why not have the first person they hear “no” from be you, the person they love?

Tip #4: Couple the N.O. word with explanations.

I understand why parents think saying “No” is final and harsh, but “No” coupled with explanations is a healthy way for you to show boundaries, unacceptable behavior and to teach your kids their own personal boundaries. Children should know that the word ‘no’ can help fend off harmful and coercive behavior from others. Children should know that a verbal “no” should be treated as a finality, especially for personal, physical boundaries. If your kids never hear the word no from you, I fear they will never respect the implications. They may be the kids who push others’ boundaries and be weaker to coercive behavior from others.

Tip #5: Don’t run away from issues as a way to avoid saying “No.”

Your kids will be tougher if they don’t always get what they want-if they don’t always get the ice cream cone. They won’t be tougher if you just run away from the truck and you don’t face them with a “No, you can’t have that because its dinner time… No, you can’t have that because you smacked Sally in the face”. Without learning the importance of the N.O. word your kids may become people who are either peer-pressured or the peer-pressurer’s.
So, use the word no and explain to your kids why you are saying “no” to that action or thing, prepare them for the real world, isn’t that what we are supposed to do as parents and nannies?


Become comfortable with the word “No”.

1. First off become comfortable and confident that saying ‘no’ to your children is sometimes necessary and that your limitations will provide them with future awareness of boundaries and unacceptable behavior.
2. This means accepting the fact that tantrums will occur: when the tantrum happens simply ignore it-if you think other parents are watching and judging, remember that they have kids too and have likely dealt with tantrums.
3. Saying ‘no’ does not hinder your child’s decision making-process as long as you discuss the issues with her. Make your child apart of the discussion.

Successfully use the N.O. word.
1. Always couple the word ‘no’ with a follow up explanation, even if your child is an infant (they understand more than we think.)
2. At the point where you and your child can converse, I recommend asking your child why he thinks he can’t do or have a certain thing (if this action has previously been discussed.)
3. Make sure the people in your household (you, your partner and nanny) are consistent with acceptable and unacceptable behavior and treats. You will see quicker response and acknowledgment from your child when everyone is on the same page.


Remembering why the “N.O.” word is important:
1. Teaches your kids boundaries for others and themselves.
2. Your kids will hear ‘no’ from other people, so prepare them for the real world.
3. “No” is a quick way for your kid to set boundaries, now, in the sandbox, and later, in high school and college.


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