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Helping Kids Say ‘Yes” to the Sound of ‘No’

​​This information is included in our Guide to Communication Skills. Click here to see the rest of the guide.

Kids don’t like to be told “No,” especially when they’ve got their heart set on doing something or getting something they want.

But accepting “No” for an answer is a basic skill every child must learn. The steps to the skill are:

  • Look at the person who is telling you “No.”
  • Say “Okay.”
  • Stay calm.
  • If you disagree or want to know why, ask later. 

Here are some tips for making your teaching even more effective:

  • Always try to give genuine verbal praise to children whenever they accept “No” for an answer or when they disagree appropriately.
  • If children will not take “No” for an answer, and you reward them by “giving in,” they will learn that “No” doesn’t mean “No” – it means “Keep trying!”
  • When giving a child a reason for saying “No,” be concise and to the point. A long, drawn-out explanation is neither necessary nor productive. You can always explain your reasons later, when your child is calm.
  • When your child disagrees with you appropriately, reward the behavior by actively listening to what he or she is telling you.  

You also should set rules and boundaries for children, establish reasonable consequences when they are violated, and follow through with the consequences you have set.

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