Learning to Say "No"

saying no

Setting limits with your kids can be hard. Effective discipline is sometimes a surprisingly fine line between being excessively harsh or letting your kids walk all over boundaries. So how can you help mold your littles into polite, productive members of society without being the bad-guy all the time? Here are five helpful strategies, applicable to children of all ages—from toddlers to teens.

1. Give your kids a choice. Being told what to do all of the time can chafe a child as much as an adult, so allowing your child some measure of control may actually improve his behavior significantly. Don’t give too many choices, as that can overwhelm a child; two options, both clearly explained, should be enough.

2. Explain your rationale. Kids, like adults, don’t like rules without reasons. Even the littlest little deserves an explanation, and it is good to get into the habit early. “Because I said so” should only be used as a last resort.

3. Validate your child’s feelings. Say things like “I know, it can be very sad when _____” to help your child understand that she is allowed to feel upset.

4. Cultivate empathy. Explain that she can’t do something because it hurts someone, and encourage him to think about others’ feelings. This is an important step in raising a kind, generous child.

5. Stick to your commitments. When you tell a child something, whether positive (“We can go to the park tomorrow”) or negative (“If you are having trouble sharing, we will need to leave the playground”), follow through. Children value predictability. If you tell your child that she has “one more chance” five times, she will continue to push the envelope until there is a consequence. It sounds strange that enforcing consequences makes you less of a bad-guy in the long run, but following through on your statements will make your child more likely to listen the first time. It will also prevent the situation from escalating to the point that you have trouble keeping your temper in check.

Good luck, and I wish you a peaceful and happy day!

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>