4 Positive Ways To Say “No” To Your Child


Saying no can be challenging for parents, but it is an important skill to develop. From lacking confidence, to wanting to avoid confrontations, there are many reasons why parents avoid saying “no” to their children.


Here are four creative and alternative ways you can use when you need to say no to your child.

The Importance Of Saying “No”

However uncomfortable it might seem to say no to your child, it’s extremely important that you are confident and assertive when you do so.

Saying no is an important way of establishing rules, boundaries and setting clear limits for your child. Your child may try to test the boundaries you set, but by being consistent and firm in your approach, in time they will come to respect these boundaries.

“Having consistent boundaries and rules will mean that your child will be more likely to feel safe. In time, not only will they respect you more for your consistency and assertive approach, but they will be less likely to react negatively because they will have a clearer understanding of the logic behind your responses,”

explains Cheryl James, a psychology writer at Draft beyond and Last minute writing.

Alternative Ways To Say No

Saying no doesn’t have to be strict to be assertive. Consider your tone when saying no and try to be as calm as possible to reduce the likelihood of your child reacting negatively.

Use Humor To Say No

Instead of saying an outright “no”, consider using humor. For example, you could whisper it playfully, say “no” in a highly over-dramatic voice or even say, “never in a million, zillion, trillion years!” You could also sing “no” (once or repeating it multiple times) in different pitches.

Using humor will allow you to diffuse the situation, whilst still making the limitations clear.

Use A Distraction

When it comes to younger children, consider using a distraction. For example, you could say no to their request and quickly move on to a different activity or topic to distract them, thereby preventing them from having a tantrum.

Another effective strategy can be to say no to a request, but then say yes to something else, using the phrase, “no, but instead, here’s…” and fill it in with the chosen alternative.

For instance, you might say no to more screen time, but yes to playing a game together or doing an activity together they enjoy, such as reading a book, playing an imaginary game or doing some dancing.

Explain Why You Are Saying No

Sometimes the best way to say no and avoid confrontation or push back from your child is to explain your reasoning.

“A plain no might illicit anger or frustration from your child because they don’t understand your logic. However, by saying ‘no because…’ you can help a child to understand the reasons behind your choices. Be sure to keep your explanation simple and short in order for it to be effective. Children respond best to concise, straight-forward explanations, so avoid giving them a long lecture,” says Ruth Scott, a parenting blogger at Writinity and Researchpapersuk.

Ask Your Child What They Think They Need To Do Before You Can Say Yes

Instead of just saying no, ask your child what they think they might need to do, or under what circumstances they think you would say yes.

This not only encourages a mature discussion and collaborative approach with your child, but it also encourages them to understand your reasoning and consider your perspective more deeply.

This is a particularly effective approach to use with slightly older children.


As a parent there will be times when you need to say no. However, rather than delivering a harsh, uncompromising no without reason or explanation, find ways to soften the disappointment for your child by being softer and more playful. Remember to be firm but fair and consistent.

If you say no, make sure that you follow through, otherwise you will confuse your child. Avoid getting into an argument with them and keep your explanations short and concise. Accepting boundaries and hearing “no” is an important life skill for your child to learn, so be confident when you do have to say no.

Ashley Halsey is a professional writer at Law assignments and Gumessays.com. She has been involved in numerous projects throughout the country, including offering parenting and educational tips to her readers. She regularly attends business training courses, where she enjoys keeping up-to-date with the latest developments. A mother of two children, Ashley enjoys reading and traveling with her family in her spare time.


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