Saying “no” without using the word “no”


Parents often feel like a broken record when it comes to the word “no” in everyday life. “No cookie, it’s almost dinner time.” “No! Don’t touch that!” “No throwing your toys!”

Then suddenly one day they start to realize that their child is echoing flurries of “no!”

Repeating the word “no” over and over again can lead to lessening its effect and can cause your child to tune you out.

It is important to teach children boundaries, but mitigating the use of the word “no” by using other language can get your point across just as clearly and allow you to reserve the firm “no” for more serious situations.

Here are a few examples of how to say “no” without using that two-letter word.

There is a thunderstorm raging outside and your child insists that he wants to go outside to play.
Instead of saying: “No, we are not going outside, it’s raining.”
Try saying: “It’s very wet outside, let’s stay inside where it’s dry. Why don’t we watch a movie/paint a picture/bake some cookies.”

Your child eyes your cell phone on the counter and goes to grab it.
Instead of saying: “No, don’t touch that please.”
Try saying: “Let’s go find something else to play with. How about we go get your blocks/crayons/truck to play with.”

These responses may still elicit cries of anger or frustration from your kids, but they are less likely to ignite a full meltdown than the word “no” would. Saving the word “no” for more serious situations gives it more impact when you need it and your child will be less likely to tune out the word “no” when it is used more selectively. You may even find that you are hearing the word “no” from them less as well!


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