One of the MOST important lessons I have learned was to stop saying “NO” to children. When I discovered there were other alternatives, I read about them, analyzed the reasons behind this approach, and agreed with it. It made total sense, and I eliminated NO from my vocabulary. I only keep it for special occasions involving safety, when there is not enough time to go into longer discussions.
It was hard in the beginning, I had to stay focused not to say it all the time, to replace it with other choices, but now it comes naturally. I actually shrug when I hear parents scream NO at their kids in public. It sounds so foreign at this point. And you know what? My kids don’t have a problem with not being told “no”, they listen to me even without me having to throw it at them every now and then. They just listen to me and think about what I tell them, and they do what I ask them to do. No screaming, no humiliation, no forcing involved. Try it.
Here is a wonderful article from RegardingBaby.org about what to say instead of “no”. Works well in our house:
1) Rephrase your request in a positive way: Instead of saying, “No, don’t run,” try, “Please walk inside.” Instead of ”No, don’t touch!” try, “You want to touch the lamp, but it might fall and break. Please just look with your eyes.” Instead of, “No, don’t touch the cat,” try, “Please remember to touch the cat gently.” (You may have to stay close to demonstrate gentle touches.)
2) Let your child know what he may do instead of telling him what he can’t do: Instead of, ”No, you can’t have a cookie now,” try saying, “You may have a cookie after dinner. If you are hungry now, you may have fruit or a piece of cheese.” Instead of, ”No climbing on the furniture,” try, “The chair is for sitting in. If you’d like to climb, you may climb here (showing him). “Instead of , “No, we can’t go to the playground because it’s raining,” try saying, ” I know how much you love to play outside. We can go out as soon as the rain stops. Would you like to read a story or build with your blocks while we wait for the rain to stop?” Instead of , “No! No throwing balls indoors,” try saying, “You can roll the ball indoors or take it outside and throw it. What’s your choice?”
6) If your child is hitting, kicking, or biting: Instead of saying, “No hitting/kicking/biting!” try saying, “Hitting/kicking/biting hurts! I won’t let you hit/kick/bite me. If you want to hit/kick/bite, you may hit the floor (or these pillows)/kick this ball/bite this teething ring.”