“No” is not a bad word, but it is definitely overused. There are other ways of telling your kids “No” without saying “No.” If you want to know how to get kids to listen, then you have to understand that kids need to know their boundaries. So how do I start? and What do I say instead of “No”?

Why does a kid need boundaries?

Boundaries are just a guided path for kids to walk as they grow. You’re teaching them to stay on the path because it leads to happier family time and more opportunities for the child. Kids, however, are born to test our boundaries and that’s when we, as parents, are called to say “No.”

Saying “No” does not make us the enemy, as it seems that my generation of parents is very concerned with being their child(ren)’s friend. Saying “No” can be looked at as a form of teaching. Just as we teach the child to walk, play, etc. If you’ve ever needed to take your kids to the doctor and watch them suffer through shots, flu testing, or anything worse, then you’ll understand why parents are asked to do the hard things… to better the child.

What do I say Instead of No?

As mentioned before, “No” is not a bad word, but it is overused. When a child hears the same word over and over he/she will begin to ignore it. Funny! They’re not too different from us adults. I encourage you to continue your use of “No” but to mix it up occasionally with some words and phrases below.


Is that a good choice?

Try again.

Let’s do “this”, instead.

That isn’t a good idea.

Think of ways to say “Yes” instead of “No.”

When my four year old asks for a snack just before dinner is on the table, I want to tell him “No”. The reason I don’t say “No” is because I for see a major meltdown from a hungry kid who just can’t understand why I won’t let him eat something. So what do I say instead? I’ll say, “Sure, let’s eat a snack for dessert after dinner.” I’ll then have to keep his mind and hands busy by helping me set the table or some other small task, but just before we sit to eat, I’ll ask him to pick out a snack for the family to enjoy after dinner.

Can I still say “No”?

Absolutely! You should teach your child to accept the words “No” because other adults in the world, including teachers, employers, police, and more will use that word frequently. Like I said, “No” is not a bad word. What I’m teaching you here is to say “No” without the constant meltdowns. If you’re looking for more help on getting your child to accept the word “No” then check out this book:

If you like this post, you might also like…

What age should kids start doing chores?

Intentional Parenting

Posted by:stmarthaslens

2 replies on ““No” is Not a Bad Word

  1. Giving kids options is a good idea! Them learning to obey your “no” is also good for their safety, there are times when immediate obedience to your voice is to keep them safe.

  2. This is so true! I have found that a couple of my kids are really resistant to ‘no’ but are all ears when I use a different phrase!

Leave a Reply