How to Tell My Child “NO”….. …Without Saying “NO”
Being a parent can be challenging. Many parents feel like all they do is tell their child no all of the time. They feel that there has to be a better way….and guess what, there is!
Every word we speak affects how the mind thinks and builds circuitry within the brain to habitually respond and react according to the quality of data it receives. The word “no” is a very limiting word and when used too often in can program us for limitation, separation, fear and resistance. Hardwiring your child’s brain to make possibilities and limitlessness the norm is far more productive…the brain loves it and it continues growing their limitless creativity and imaginative thinking!
Here are 5 Ways you can empower your child without using the word “no”.
- Insert a better offering. If your child is doing something that he should not be, simply give them something better, or more intriguing to do. Ask them if they want to help you cook something, take books off a shelf and reorganize. Kids love novel creative tasks and to feel like they are worthy contributors toward something. Let them know you need a little help with a new project… and more often than not, they will enthusiastically jump in and join you.
- Give them choices. If they are doing something that they shouldn’t, give them alternative options. Human beings like to know that they have some level of control over their lives. Giving them choices within a set of options empowers them.
- Say yes later. If your child wants something he/she can’t have or shouldn’t have right now (but can have later), instead of saying no tell your child that they can have it later. Not having a snack until after dinner is a good example. Be creative and use their choices as a learning opportunity that grows their clarity and discerning abilities. For example, if your child wanted to eat a bowl of fruit but you didn’t want it to spoil their dinner, say to them… “I see you know how to pick really healthy foods! Hey what do you think about helping me make it for everyone for dinner? Or, maybe we can add some yogurt and granola and make little dessert cups for everyone. Does that sound like fun?” Saying “no” would have been a joy-kill. Instead, you generated sparks of creativity, togetherness, generosity and gave them something meaningful and important to do for the family….and you both got what you wanted….in joy! How awesome!
- Acknowledge good behavior. Make it a practice within your home to build upon the good behaviors instead of frequently communicating or saying “no” to what you don’t want or don’t like. Children need to know that they have talents and gifts and that they are behaving or doing something well. This doesn’t mean feed them with a constant stream of praise. Children turn into praise junkies when this happens and they become motivated by the reward or praise instead of the process or the joy of producing the creative works. In other words they become outwardly motivated instead of internally motivated.
- Take time to have a discussion. When your child wants something that you know is in misalignment, take the time to talk to them about it. Build their discerning abilities by asking them questions to help them understand why they want it. For example, does your child want an unhealthy food? Did they just see the food on a commercial and now their senses are stimulated and they’re begging you for it? This would be a great time to practice mindful awareness or tell them about how food marketers try to trick them. Show them how this happens. Make a game of it. Go online, to a store, or watch another commercial together and get them to identify the different things that a food marketer uses to get them to want their product (color, fun, characters, music, placement on a shelf, people will like you or you’ll have friends if they use your product, love, etc.). You can also have discussions about the body or do a creative demonstration to illustrate how a food is unhealthy. One of the best ones I did with my kids for teaching them about chemical preservatives was when I left a McDonalds cheeseburger and a regular one in a backpack for two weeks. Then after the time was up, we opened it. The healthy one was a perfect biological petre dish. The McD, on the other hand, was completely preserved – almost like a plastic food model – Yikes! Whatever they put in their foods ends up in our bodies – and it doesn’t preserve us, it harms us!
Teaching your child discernment takes time – but it’s worth the effort and long-term behavioral rewards. Never forget to acknowledge your child for what they do well. It develops their internal compass and works better than pointing out what they did wrong.