Sometimes kids just don’t get it. In a perfect world, when you say no, they’re supposed to stop asking whatever they’re asking. But in reality, your child is a perpetually optimistic creature who will be unrelenting till the sun goes down unless you step in.
Nancy Samalin, M.S. is a parenting expert who has been providing practical advice to parents throughout North America through speaking engagements and parenting workshops for over two decades. When it comes to saying no, a quote on Nancy’s website says it all
“When you say no, if even a tiny little bit of you means ‘well, maybe’, kids are like bloodhounds. They’ll sniff it out and wear you down. I call that the “sandpaper technique”.
Instead, Samalin stresses that being firm and direct with children when the word ‘no’ gets used is of utmost importance. In addition, knowing how to reason with your child is one of the only antidotes to the well-known persistence of the child’s popular question of ‘why’.
“Kids are persistent and positive, and they’re hoping for a good answer each time they ask you something,” Samalin says. “To get around all that, you’ve got to consider telling your child reasons that mean something to them.”
Nancy explains that reasoning with children using justifications that truly resound with the child is an effective method of overcoming the insistent question of “why?”
”Don’t tell your child something that they don’t care or directly know about. They won’t care that they should eat all their broccoli because there are starving children in Africa,” says Nancy. “Make reasons applicable to them, like it will make grandma happy if they eat all their vegetables or instill in them the understanding that eating their whole dinner leads to dessert.”
In addition to providing reasons that resonate with your child, setting rules that prevent the word ‘no’ from even occurring may also work for your family.“But these rules need to be specific – not just a rule that you shouldn’t misbehave,” Nancy explains. “Something more along the lines of we don’t hit in the house, we go to bed a specific time, or we hold hands when crossing the street.”
Overall, parents have to remember that positive discipline over punishment is always more effective.
“Creating an environment where ‘no’ is said too frequently should also be avoided,” says Nancy, “This creates a negative environment, makes saying ‘no’ ineffective and parents will [just] face more “sandpapering” [that is, asking the question over and over until ‘yes’ is said]”.