Why you shouldn’t always say no to children

why you shouldn't always say no to children pinWhy you shouldn’t always say no to children.

No woah there. Slow down. Don’t hit  un subscribe or tear me apart in the comments. I’m not saying don’t say no to your child ever, but that it should maybe reserved for certain occasions.

Hear me out for a minute. I’m not trying to preach or say that I’m a perfect parent, I’m far from it but this is one thing that I manage.

Have you ever found yourself saying ‘no, don’t do that.’ ‘No, you can’t’ ‘I said NO’. ‘No, you are not allowed that.’ ‘No, no, NO’?

Does your child listen? The majority if the time, always or not very often if at all? If I say No to my little man too much, I find he either doesn’t listen and does what he wants, gets angry and blows everything out of proportion and it becomes a massive fight or cries and it takes ages to calm him down and discuss what was a simple issue like ‘no, you can’t have sweets before tea’ or ‘no, you can’t go out in shorts when its -10 degree’s outside’!

One thing that I learnt when I worked as a Nanny, is that an explanation can sometimes be the difference between a happy day or a grumpy day.

There are always times when you just have to say a short sharp ‘no’. When it’s to do with safety for instance – if you see your child about to step in the road or pat a dog without permission or jump from the top step of the stairs etc but if it is reserved for such occasions, it has so much more power as it’s a shock, especially if you have taken the time to explain that you may sometimes say no loudly if there is danger.

I’m not talking about those times though, I’m talking about the 10 or 15 times a day that you have to disappoint your little cherub.

It sounds time-consuming but once you get into the habit, its second nature.

When you say no, try to explain why and not use the word ‘no’ and see what happens. I also try to incorporate our behaviour improvement method ie: a star chart, reward system etc and give him a choice. Giving choice can be key as it lets your child feel as though they are in control and ‘winning’ when both choices lead you to where you want to be. Just make sure you are happy with the choices you give! Have you ever said ‘right, if you don’t do as I say, we are going home’ only for them to say ‘I want to go home’?! I have to admit I’ve been known to say ‘well, actually, if you want to go home, you need to do as I say otherwise we will stay here for longer’!

A situation that I would find myself in with ‘A’ could be:

‘What are you doing in the fridge A?’

‘Getting a smoothie’

‘Erm, you know you have to ask for one of those and not just help yourself’

‘Please can I have a smoothie Mummy?’

‘Well, did you see me making lunch? I’m just about to put it on the table and a smoothie would fill you up, so if you’re a good boy and eat your lunch, you can get your own smoothie from the fridge after’.

No Mummy, I want one now’ (whine)

‘I explained why you can’t have it now sweetheart. You can either eat your lunch nicely and have a smoothie after or you can be grumpy and have no smoothie. What do you want to do?’

‘I want it now’ (whine)

‘Your choice is lunch then smoothie or lunch and no smoothie. Which one?’

‘Smoothie NOW’

‘Ok, I heard you and I know you want it now but I gave you your choice. If you don’t calm down, the answer is No. No smoothie at all. Last chance, what would you like?’

‘Lunch then smoothie’ (grumpy)

‘Oh well done little man. That’s a good choice. I’m really proud of you. I’m going to give you a penny for your happy jar because you made a grown up choice. Now let’s get your penny, have lunch and then you can have your smoothie’! Does that sound good?’

and on we go with our day. It might be that little man wants to go out in inappropriate clothes. I would handle it like…

‘Wow. I like your outfit. Nice choice. That’s lovely for when we’re in the house. But, we need to go out right now. Can you look out of the window and let me know what the weather is like?

‘It’s raining’

‘Oh really? That’s such a shame. If you go outside with your shorts and no coat, your lovely clothes are going to get wet. I think we should get you changed’

‘No. I’m wearing this’

‘Well, if you do, your clothes will get wet and you’ll have to take them off and not wear them for the rest of the day. Also, if you get wet and cold, you might get poorly and then there will be no more playing out or seeing your friends as you won’t feel well.  Can you please choose some long trousers and a coat to wear and then we can go’

‘No Mummy. Please. I want to wear these’. (stamping feet)

‘Sorry but I don’t want you to get cold and I want to see you in that outfit when we get home and you won’t be able to wear it later if it gets wet now, so choose. I choose your trousers and coat or you do’


‘I know it’s hard but I think that if you can choose your trousers and coat, I might have to give you a penny for being such a good boy’

‘I want to wear these’

‘Last chance. I might have to take a penny and put it in the sad jar if you can’t choose. Choose trousers and get a penny or Mummy chooses and we get grumpy and you lose a penny?’


‘Well done. Off you go’.

I know I sound preachy. I’m nervous to press publish on this but it honestly works. Children respond so well to an explanation. It might take time but if you can try to take the time to explain, kids often respond well. I sometimes explain why I’m telling my son these things such as

‘Now, I’m telling you this and talking to you like a big boy so that you can understand that we can’t always do what we want all the time. Sometimes Mummy wants to do something like eat a cake before tea, or go play with my friends, but I can’t. I have to do my boring jobs, or tidy up or eat my healthy food first. It’s rubbish sometimes isn’t it? Now, I can talk to you like a big boy or treat you like a baby and just say no to you. What do you think is best?’

If you are having issues getting your little one to do as they are told, try it. Give it a few goes and try to stay calm. Give a choice and incorporate a reward. There are times that I find myself saying ‘I have asked you to stop 3 times. If you don’t stop, you will lose a penny’ over and over again and we get no where. If I can get my head in the right space, I change to ‘I’ve asked you 3 times now. If you can do it now, you can have a penny for listening and helping me’ and then, job done. He does as he’s told.

I try to remember things like ‘you catch more bees with honey that vinegar’. It’s so true.

You can’t start too early either. Even if your little one doesn’t understand or they can’t hear what you’re saying because theyre screaming so loudly or laying on the floor kicking you! If you keep going they will start to understand. They will like to start choosing and thinking they are getting what they want. It will also help you get in the habit and for it to become second nature.

I’m nowhere near perfect. I shout at times. Loudly. I can lose my temper and say ‘just stop that now because I said so’. Sometimes I forget to give a choice or reward and sometimes I think ‘just do as I bloody well say because I am your Mummy and I told you so’ but I try to explain as much as possible. I have bad days and so does my son but I don’t think it helps them to just say ‘no’ over and over. You’re also giving them a skill by example. Sometimes, when little man has a toy and a friend wants it, I’ve heard him say ‘I just got it but you can have it when I have finished. It might not work but it makes me so proud to hear him try to reason.

I also know that being a parent is so much harder and different from being a nanny. It’s so much easier to get the best from children when they aren’t your own. Nearly every child I nannied before could be an angel with me and as soon as their Mummy came home, we had tears, arguments, shouting, stamping and behaviour I never saw. How many times do you hear that your little darling is so well-behaved at school or nursery? Eats all their food whilst sitting at the table? Asked so politely and remembered to say thank you? Being a Mummy comes with so much more that makes it harder and it’s also 24/7.

I try to expain nearly everything that we do. Why I have to do jobs, why I ask him to not wipe his hands on his clothes, why I save money, why I clean, why we do most things. I then find that when we do have to do boring things, not buy something, be polite etc, he behaves how I need him to as he know’s why.

Do you already try to explain why the answer is no to your children? Do you find it works better? What made you start trying this way of dealing with your child’s behaviour?







  1. Hi Hannah. I totally agree and have always parented this way. I’m not a big fan of fighting with my loved ones daily, especially not since fighting rheumatoid arthritis daily! That’s more than enough of a battle ground for my liking! I’ve numerous times been the hot topic among my friends because I’m too soft on my kids and those people tend to run their homes like a military prison service. However because I don’t believe it’s my right to tell others how to parent, they always seem to assume they are in the right and I must know so as I never say they are in the wrong! In all honesty I would loathe to be that kind of parent! My four children and the many I’ve fostered and been there for have all turned out to be wonderful children and young adults that I am very proud of. Whilst I’ll never claim to have been the perfect parent, no one is perfect, but I definitely got something right! So I’ll continue on as always being the soft touch mumsy who has half the towns kids turning to me when they can’t turn to their own parents and at times I’ve thanked God they had me there cos the alternative could have been awful! Well done Hannah for saying how we all feel, no doubt there will be people who disagree, but I for one am very happy to see this out there. Maybe it’s cos all us non-confrontational types don’t often say exactly how we feel because we don’t wish to argue. Keep up the good work x

  2. I try to practice this method as much as possible with my 4 and 7yr olds. Unfortunately my patience doesn’t always stretch that far but I can definitely see that it works better than saying No on repeat all day!

  3. You’re completely right. Explaining things to kids helps them to understand and can remove the frustration from a situation that could otherwise flare up. That being said sometimes there is just not time to explain every situation. I read an American article that said you should explain and if a child continues to whine just repeat ‘Asked and answered’ until they give up. I tried it with my daughter and heck I must have repeated it a trillion times with her just staring at me like I was a crazy lady!!! #ParentingPicks

  4. This is really good advice, giving the child a choice when the issue is not dangerous gives them some independence. I also learnt pretty quickly not to sweat the small stuff – if what they have chosen to wear is weather appropriate, and you’re not going to a formal function like a wedding, just let them wear it. I often went out with at least one daughter in fairy wings and gumboots 🙂 Happy kids = happy parents 🙂

  5. I agree with you Hannah, saying just no to my two doesn’t work either it just causes arguments. I don’t have a happy or sad jar, i have learnt that by talking and it can take a while, 9 times out of 10 we can agree to the right choice together 🙂 #FindYourTribe

  6. I totally agree that explanations are the way forward, and really help children how to make sense of their world into the bargain. Marianna’s only ten months but I do try and say why she shouldn’t be doing whatever, even if most of the time she has no idea what I’m going on about. The health visitor asked at the last visit if she understood the word ‘no’. I looked at her mischievous grin and just said, whether she understands it and whether she then acts on it are two very different things… 🙂 #findyourtribe

  7. I think this is brilliant advice! We’re just getting to this stage with my toddler – the whole ‘I want it now’ stage and I’m finding this style is working much much better than just saying no – if anything, No just winds her up even more and it isn’t teaching her anything. Thanks so much for linking up to #ParentingPicks Mim x

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