Telling your kids No is not easy

The N Word. Oh yeah! We are not afraid to use it. And we are empowering our kids to use it as well. 


Even though there are only two letters it’s a BIG word. And it’s one that many parents don’t use or don’t use effectively.  It is HARD to use sometimes. You are out in public and you know that your child is going to have an embarrassing tantrum when you say “No, you can’t have that” or “No, don’t do that” but No is part of life.  So you decide that this one time you aren’t going to say No and you let the behavior happen. Then the next time you do it again. Seriously, public tantrums are tough to endure! But when do you stop and tell yourself No, this must stop?  Don’t let yourself get stuck in the pattern of giving in or giving up. They need to learn how to accept NO from you so they have the skills to handle it when they are adults.



We all want our kids to be happy. NO doesn’t make them happy so many of us avoid it. For many parents it is easier to let the negative behaviors continue rather than deal with the child’s reaction to setting limits. We can become so focused on keeping everyone happy that we end up letting our children run amok and do as they please.  In the end this doesn’t make anyone happy.  Consistency and limits are key!


I don’t know how it is with your kids but mine are like sharks. They can smell the indecision and feel when I am wavering. They come in for the kill and try to charm me, manipulate me or tantrum me into change.  

Saying No


Our 6 year old doesn’t take no for an answer very well. He will ask and ask and ask again. We have had to put him in time out to help him understand that badgering is not going to work. Our 7 year old gets very frustrated when he hears a No.  I have to admit that there are times that I avoid the word like a time bomb. I skirt around it, use too many words, try to change the subject and eventually frustrate myself, my husband and our kids. I am working hard on changing that!  


I am also working hard on sticking with my no! Just tonight our youngest came out of his room after going through our normal bedtime routine. He had thought of something ‘important’ to tell me. After talking a minute I hugged him and told him to go back to bed.  He whined and asked me to come cover him up. I immediately said No. I regretted saying it but I stuck with it. I let him take himself back to bed. Then went to his room a while later and made sure he was covered up and settled in comfortably.


Does No always have to stick? Yes! And no. Here’s the thing. In our adult lives we are told no or have barriers placed in our way. Do we let that stop us? Sometimes, yes, but not always. There are times when we negotiate or find another way to get what we want or need.  Our kids need to learn the fine art of this as well. There are times when No is just NO and there are times when you can have a meaningful discussion and present your arguments and perhaps the next time that No will be a Yes. It’s a fine line to walk and one that we are clinging to for dear life. Our kids will learn to assert their opinions and beliefs when it is the time to do so. In this we are attempting to teach them the art of negotiation and patience.


How about your kids? Do they get to tell you No? Ours do. In moderation only.  They are given choices and can say yes to one and no to another. They can answer questions with No (respectfully) and express their feelings and emotions with it.   There are times when they tell us no and it is not the time to do so. Like “You need to clean your toys up”  “NO!”  They don’t get to do that! But they do get to say No to “Do you want to watch a movie?” “No”.



The N Word. Do you use it? You can do it! Start slow if you have to and build up. Find one thing or one time when you should be saying no but you aren’t and then do it. Consistently, no matter how tough it is or how embarrassing the tantrum. Remember that you are their parent and not their friend. It is at home where children first learn to respect authority and that authority is yours.  Tantrums, tears, pouting, no matter what you have to endure it’s your job to teach them.


Do you tell your kids No? Do you stick with it? Do you allow them the chance to talk to you about your decision? 



Hi! I am Robyn.I have been happily partnered with my hubby for over 25 years and I am mom of two little boys. I will be sharing the good and the bad of my life and telling you about brands and products I believe you should know more about.

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About the author


Hi! I am Robyn. I have been happily partnered with my hubby for over 25 years and I am mom of two little boys. I will be sharing the good and the bad of my life and telling you about brands and products I believe you should know more about.

Contact Robyn at


  • As a single mom, this is something I have definitely learned. I get upset when I can tell other kids are never told no. I tried that at first with my first son and it took months to reverse when I finally realized my mistake.

  • My son would tell you that I have absolutely no trouble saying, “No”. 🙂 He also knows when he cannot push it and that no is final. I don’t mind when my son tries to negotiate (at least most of the time), especially when he really does think about it and has good points. 🙂

  • It is interesting, I think “No” is harder with my 2nd than it was with my first. She is more stubborn, that’s part of it, and since there is so much going on it is easier to say “yes” with her sometimes. When I know I would have said “No” to my oldest…

  • I have teens so I think this is a different age range than what you were referring to, but I think it is important that if you really mean no, your kids need to understand that. Other wise, they’ll eat you alive. I am open to negotiating, when done respectively.

  • I’ve learned to say ‘no’ but more often than not, I deflect to their dad. It’s a bad habit that I need to break because all it does is make what I say less meaningful when I DO make a decision.

  • No is a very tough lesson to teach. Some kids go from one parent to the next, trying to get the NO changed to a YES. I spent a lot of years telling my kids no, especially in their teen years. I was not a popular parent because I did not let them do everything that their friends were doing.

    BUT, as a parent of adults in their late 30’s, I have learned over the years that there were times when all they wanted to hear was NO to make it easier to tell their friends they couldn’t do a particular thing, Mom made the decision that it wasn’t going to happen by saying NO.

    Even little kids need to and want to be told no, they just don;t understand it yet. Keep saying it, and know that you are doing your parenting job the right way. No is good for kids.

  • This is something my son needs to learn to do with my grandchildren. They are basically nice kids but they have learned pester power and, my grandson especially, have learned to say NO. That is the usual answer when told to clean their play area or instructed to do other things. And my son frequently lets them get away with it because he simply doesn’t have the time to fuss with them. I realize that they are looking for more attention, but they don’t understand that Daddy has school work to do and can’t take them ice skating every day. He does make the time to spend at least an hour every day with them doing something that appeals to them. I don’t remember that my son was so difficult when he was little. But I had a horse farm then and there were many things to occupy his interest and he understood his limits.

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