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What Every Parent Needs to Know About �No�

Have you ever said �No� to your child? Of course you have. The use of �No� certainly has its place, but only if it�s used effectively. The problem is, �No� is just a word. Likewise, a tornado siren is just a sound and a traffic signal is just a light until they are associated with something that is meaningful to us. We take action when we see a traffic light turn red or hear a tornado siren because we know they are associated with important events. If your child is going to respond to you when you say �No,� then he needs to know that there will be some meaningful action associated with it.

Here are a few things to consider when helping your child learn the meaning of �No.�

�No� is not a suggestion. 
When you say �No,� it means �Stop.�  Providing immediate consequences, consistently and frequently, will help your child learn this. 

Volume is not the solution. 
If you say �No� and your child ignores you, repeating it multiple times as loud as you possibly can is not going to help her understand the meaning of �No.� It will just result in her putting her hands over her ears or becoming very good at tuning you out. Just as a stoplight does not get brighter when it turns red, there is no need to make your �No� louder.

Action is the key. 
After you have issued one �No�, your child needs to receive feedback from you. If he stopped and complied when you said �No,� praise him. If he ignores you, respond in the most appropriate manner necessary to help him understand that �No� is not a suggestion, it�s a demand. Saying �No� multiple times, with no meaningful consequence, teaches your child that it�s a demand that can be ignored. This, in turn, reduces your authority as a parent and increases the likelihood your child will learn to ignore future requests. On the other hand, providing immediate and meaningful consequences after you have issued a �No� will help your child find meaning in your command and will serve as a future cue that he needs to pay attention when he hears �No.�