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Any suggestions for teaching the meaning of the word “no” ?
Q: How do we teach our children the meaning of "NO" without being vicious? Where do we draw the line on a child who knows the meaning but chooses to be selectively independent of our wishes? If we let it slide, aren't we really sending a mixed signal?
Bill
A: Let me explain different parenting styles.

Permissive parents indulge their children to a fault. They set few limits if any, and continually do not follow through when they say “no.” Often they are well meaning and loving parents, but have a difficult time being in charge of their children. Consequently, their children run the house and often act like brats.

Authoritarian parents are parents who dominate their children. These parents are at the other extreme from permissive parents. They over-control their children with threats and excessive punishments. Consequently their children fear them and either become submissive or quite rebellious.

Bottom line, it is wise not to follow either one of these patterns. The goal of parenting is to help your children become socialized and independent so someday they can successfully run their own lives. As a parent, you need to lovingly show your children better ways to behave. Here are some tips that can help you teach your children that "no" means "no":
  • Rent or purchase the video called “1-2-3-MAGIC” by Dr. Thomas W. Phelan. You can order this video by calling 1-800-442-4453 or rent it from a video store. It's great for showing parents—in detail—how to become really effective in getting kids to listen.

  • Spend time each week loving your children, having fun with them and creating nice memories. Children who feel loved and children who adore their parents are children who feel a real desire to cooperate with their parents. In order for discipline strategies to work, children must be in love with you. This is why parents who have a nasty approach to their children have such a terrible time.

  • Try to say “yes" instead of “no” more often. Here is an example of what I mean: your daughter asks, “Dad can I watch television?” Instead of saying “no” you respond, “Yes…you can watch television as soon as you pick up all your toys.” “But Dad, I want to watch TV!” And you respond by saying, “I know you do and I said yes…as soon as you pick up your toys.” See how this works? Try to work some of these yes responses into your day.

  • You might also want to reward your children at the end of the day for being such good listeners. After dinner on a good day, say to your children, “You kids have been such good listeners today, we are going to make popcorn and play a game before you go to bed.” There are lots of ways to reward your children for a good day—just be creative and find ways to really turn them on to being good listeners.
Love and discipline go together and if you keep this in mind, parenting will be more fun for you and more of a pleasure.
Kenneth N. Condrell Ph.D Child Psychologist