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Advice You Can’t Refuse: Teaching Parents to Just Say “No”
I have always found it difficult to say “no” to a child. I do when I have to, of course, but it isn’t easy for me. You might say I struggle to say “no” even when it’s the right thing to do. In fact, I have to consciously think about the reasons why a “no” makes sense.

Parents who have as hard a time as I do often tell me that they have to work themselves up to say “no.” If you’re one of those parents, here’s advice that will help you utter that small but powerful word—and mean it.

First, when you’re about to surrender to your child’s demands, recite the following statement to yourself:

I’m not doing him (or her) any favors by giving in.”

This will remind you that caving in is not in your child’s best interests. An important aspect of parenting is teaching your children to develop self-discipline; they can’t learn it if their parents indulge them at all the wrong times.

Second, you must recognize the ways kids manipulate their parents—that is, how they get them to back off from a “no” and/or punishment.

Children’s five favourite tactics in this regard are the following:

1) Crying
Many children cry when rules are enforced. Some even sob. Giving in to a crying child is a sure way of creating a perpetually weepy child. Your youngster will cry every time you try to enforce your rules because he will realise that when he does so, you give in.

2) Holding their Breath
Naturally, many parents relent when their child’s face begins turning blue. Experts say not to fall for this trick because nature will take over when your child has to breathe. It’s up to you to stay calm. Don’t rush to rescue him. Instead, distract him by either tickling him or turning him upside down in a playful manner. But remember, once the distraction is over, stick to your “no.”

3) Threats
Children often try to threaten their parents into changing their mind. “I’m never going to love you anymore,” “I’m going to run away” and “You will be sorry” are all fairly common threats. In divorced families, children sometimes threaten to move in with the other parent or to tell on the parent who’s saying “no.”

4) Preying on Parents’ Guilt
Children make many statements to push their parents’ buttons. Here are a few favourites: “You’re a mean mummy.” “If you really loved me you wouldn’t do that.” “You’re not fair.” “You love her more than you love me.” “You never punish her.” Sound familiar?

5) Begging for Just One More Chance
Making a deal is a common approach. However, if you give in, you’re sabotaging your authority. Besides, you probably already gave your child extra chances before you got to the point of really meaning what you said.

Now that you’re aware of the ways kids try to turn a “no” into a “yes” you can prevent yourself from being manipulated the next time.

Remember what you need to remind yourself?

Repeat after me:

“I’m not doing my child any favors by giving in.”

Good luck, and hang in there!

Kenneth N. Condrell Ph.D Child Psychologist