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Saying “No” In A More Effective and Positive Way

We all know that parenting can feel super challenging. Young children are so cute, and at the same time they are developing their own ideas and need for autonomy, free will at its best.

One of our big jobs as parents, besides showing lots of love, is to set appropriate boundaries to keep our kids safe. As a result, we say “no” a lot. We want our homes to be a positive and warm place. Saying “no” to kids is super important and so we want to save a “BIG NO” for dangerous situations.

There are some creative ways to say no without actually saying the word “no.” One tool is to tell kids what they can and cannot do.

Instead of saying, “No, you can’t have ice cream before dinner,” say “Yes, you can have ice cream after dinner (or this weekend).” Turn your no into yes! Instead of “No, you can’t go to the park now,” say, “Yes, we can go to the park after lunch (or sometime soon).” Just make sure you follow through if you give a specific time frame, or just say “soon.”

Here are some ideas on how to say things in a way that is both more effective and more positive.

Instead of Say

Stop it Not a good idea

No, you can’t I know you want to…

You’re not allowed You really wish you could….

Hurry up We need to go faster to be on time

No, not now Yes, later or yes on a different day

Don’t touch that That is only for looking

Get off that Can you come down by yourself?

I said no! I see that you…

Come here I need you No yelling That’s really loud, use your soft voice

Stop hitting Hands are for hugging, waving, holding etc

No kicking Tell your feet not to kick

I hope this was helpful and gives you some tools we can all use in our homes.

Erin Myrmel


© October, 2019 by Erin Myrmel at Sleep Baby, LLC

This information is being provided to you for educational and informational purposes only. It is being provided to you to educate you about pediatric sleep and as a self-help tool for your own use. It is not intended nor is implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or the health and welfare of your baby, toddler or child. This information is to be used at your own risk based on your own judgment. For my full Disclaimer, please go to

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