Respecting the “No”

The Phrase Tool is an important tool in parenting. Using the same short phrases over and over to teach a character trait can help us be able to be more effective in our parenting. Instead of reaching for the right words to say or instead of using long lectures, we can just use the same words and phrases over and over and then take time to practice what they mean.

  • “Gentle hands, please.”
  • “Use kind words, please.”
  • “Work as a team, please.”

“Respect the ‘No'” is a phrase we have had to use a lot lately in our home.

Why is “No” such a tough word for our kids to hear? Sometimes when I say “No” to my kids, you would think that I told them that I was going to pluck every hair off of every square inch of their bodies with tweezers.

Why is “No” so difficult for kids and how can we help them respect it more without melting down and losing their minds…and making us lose ours?

Here are 5 ways to use the Teamwork Parenting Approach to teach our kids to “Respect the ‘No'”:

  1. Use “No’s” Sparingly:  I’m certainly not a “Yes” parent, but I do watch how often I say “No”, and I also make sure that I’m not just saying “No” because it’s an inconvenient or annoying request.  Sometimes I will go out of my way to say “Yes” more often even if it is just in saying:  “Yes, in a little while…” instead of “No, not right now.”  See what I did there?
  2. Respect their “No”:  When we respect our kids “No’s” and their own personal boundaries, they will be more likely to respect ours.  When they ask us kindly to stop doing something, we should stop.  In fact, we can also say:  “You’re right.  I’m going to Respect your ‘No’.” What a great example we can set!
  3. Help kids recognize the different kinds of “No’s”.  The two phrases we use to teach our kids the different kinds of “No’s”are: “Never No’s” and the “Not-Right-Now No’s”.  A “Never No” can be more difficult to overcome, because what they are asking for will most likely never happen and that can be devastating to a child…even when their request is to run out into the street naked.    A “Not-Right-Now No”, however, is a great “No” to get because our kids will be able to do what they’ve asked to do…eventually.  Learning the difference will help them discover that they actually receive more “Not-Right-Now No’s” than they do “Never No’s.”
  4. Teach coping strategies:  With a “Never No”, you can empathize with them and teach them strategies to cope:  taking deep breaths, asking for a hug, getting some space in their room, washing their face, getting a drink of water, etc.  With a “Not-Right-Now No”, focus on the wonderful opportunity they have to exercise the skill of patience.  We even keep a Patience List  with some ideas of constructive things they can do with their time while they’re waiting.  We even say: “Thank you for Choosing Patience (another phrase we use often).  What did you choose to do with your time while you waited?”
  5. Teach them what to say:  Time and time again, “Respecting the ‘No'” is on our weekly Family Meeting agenda because our kids need constant practice in what to say when they hear a “No”.  We will give them this example:  “You ask your brother to play and he says ‘No’.  How can you Respect his ‘No’?”  We listen to their ideas and lead them to say something like:  “Ok, I’m disappointed.  I’m going to play something else.  Let me know if you change your mind.”

No matter what kind of “No” our kids receive from us, from others, or from this world, let’s equip them with some powerful strategies to handle to be able to “Respect the No.”

Lord, you ask us to wait often.  We don’t always get what we want when we want it and neither should our children. Remind us that we are not only teaching our kids about living in this world when we teach them to Respect the “No’s”, but we are also teaching them about living a life of faith.  We are not just teaching them to live under our loving authority, but we are teaching them to live under Yours—respecting Your “Never No’s” and “Not-Right-Now No’s” too. 

Here’s to building better families together-

Christine

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