How to say “no” to your child involves avoiding the word ‘no’. Confused? I’ll explain: saying “no” to others makes it appear as if you are against them; as if you are stopping them just because YOU want them to stop, and not because it is best for THEM. The word ‘no’ itself sounds aggressive and doesn’t justify anything. Instead, make your children aware of the consequences of the behaviour you don’t approve of, for example, “Madina, please don’t throw the blocks at your brother, the blocks are hurting him and making him cry. How about we go over to your brother and see if he’s okay, and then the two of you can play with the blocks together.”
This strategy also works for when your children want an item, and you cannot give it to them. For example, instead of telling your children “no, you can’t have that,” try to express this without using negatives words; here’s an example: “Hafsah, I cannot give you that chocolate bar, but instead I can give you some fruit to eat so that it will help you grow big and strong. After your fruit I will give you a piece of that chocolate bar.” This example also involves an alternative, (“…instead I can give you…”) which is excellent in that it shows children you are not completely rejecting their wishes, but simply replacing it with an option that is better for them.
Finally, if you do not agree with your children’s decision, try finding a solution together. For instance, if your children want to wear a shirt that no longer fits, don’t say, “no, you can’t wear this,” but let them know you will work together to find a more suitable option: “Madina, this shirt is too small and doesn’t fit you anymore. Here are two shirts that still fit you, which one of the two would you like to wear?” It is important to note that this strategy gives your children an opportunity to feel like they are in power by allowing them to choose between two or more options.