Tired of when your child says no all the time? Before you ignore your children’s no’s, consider these three reasons to listen—and respect— them when your child says no.
It seems we tell our kids “no” all the time, from discipline to wanting new toys. But we forget the other side—when our kids say “no.”
Think about all the times your child says no. Maybe it’s when another child demanded to play with the toy train in his hand. Or when an adult tickled him to tears and exhaustion despite saying no several times. Or if they’re like my twins, maybe he’s frustrated because you keep asking if he needs to use the potty. (Especially when he already said no.)
An SSBE reader coined the appropriate term “respect the no” in a recent comment where she wrote:
Now, the thing that I parrot all day long is, “respect the ‘no.’” If J wants someone else’s toy, I encourage him to ask “Can I have that please?” and then he has to respect the yes or the no. The harder part for me, for whatever reason, is defending J’s need to say no sometimes. Chalk it up to wanting to be liked, maybe. So it feels like therapy every time I ask another kid to respect J’s “No.” Coincidentally, I’m learning to respect the “no” too.
We want our kids to tell us when they need to use the potty. Or that they’re full from their meal. Or that no one should touch their bodies especially if they don’t want them to.
But we still pester them with “Do you need to use the potty?” even after he’d already say no a minute ago. We keep offering food, never mind he already said no, he’s full. And we continue to tickle them, even after they’ve yelled to stop several times.
3 reasons to listen when your child says no
We need to “respect the ‘no’.” Just as we want our kids to listen to us, so too should we listen to them. Especially when they say “no.” Here’s why.
1. Kids know they can set boundaries
We all have our boundaries, kids included. By listening to their “no,” we acknowledge that theirs is just as important.
Let’s say relatives want to take a photo of your child, but she refuses. Don’t force it. Imagine what she’ll think when she realizes you don’t pay attention to her objections. We invade their personal space. We send the wrong message that adults can do whatever we want with little regard to their feelings.
And it’s so easy to tickle kids—they’re so darn cute, and they’re laughing, right? But tickling can get too much. Being the little people they are, kids can feel helpless in defending themselves.
2. Kids feel like they have a voice
Have you seen your children’s reaction when you firmly tell them “no”? Maybe they were goofing around the dinner table and you gave them “the look.” Or you told them to stop fighting over a fire truck. They probably stopped right away, knowing you were dead serious.
We need to do the same for our kids. Maybe your child tells you for the tenth time he doesn’t need to use the potty. Or that he doesn’t want his brother teasing him anymore.
Pay attention to when they’ve had enough. It could be as innocent as asking for a hug or suggesting to read a book several times when he already said no.
3. Encourages kids to stand up for what’s important to them
We’re obsessed with making kids share. But if he’s set on playing with a toy, it’s fine if your child says no to another child.
Kids encouraged to say “no” when they’re playing with a toy will learn to stand up for what’s important to them. Today it may be a toy, tomorrow it can be their values, a job promotion they deserve, or a passion they want to pursue.
I want my kids to know they have a voice, and one that I’ll listen to. I want them to set boundaries that others will respect. And I want them to stand up for what’s important to them, instead of feeling like they need to relinquish it.
I’ve been more mindful of asking my twins if they need to use the potty 10 times in a row. After all, they’ll later tell me when they need to use it, or better yet, head to the bathroom themselves.
After all, what’s the point of asking if we don’t listen? We shouldn’t even ask 10 times if he needs to use the potty. That just means we didn’t listen the other nine times.
Read more articles on listening when your child says no:
- How to Discipline a Child: The Ultimate List of Resources
- The Simple Truth about Your Child’s ‘Annoying’ Questions
- Kids’ Complaints Aren’t Petty… At Least to Them
- 3 Ways We Unintentionally Disrespect Our Kids
- How Sharing Funny Stories about Kids Can Be Hurtful
Tell me in the comments: How do you respond when your child says no?
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