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Backtalk: What to do with the Resounding No!

Hearing your child say "No!" when you have asked her to do something can be a shocker. It can also leave you wondering where to go from there. Do you force your child to do what you have asked? Just what is the best way to handle defiance? Knowing the answers to these questions can nip this age-old problem in the bud.

Ways to Handle Backtalking

If you can address defiance early on, you will have set the stage for how you will handle the power struggles that will come with the teen years. Here are a few tips that can help you end child defiance and make power struggles a thing of the past:

  • Find out why your child is telling you no. See if she has a legitimate reason for not wanting to do something or if she is just being defiant.
  • Set up a reward chart so that your child can earn rewards by behaving appropriately. It is much more effective to reward good behavior than to punish bad behavior.
  • Have a discussion with your child about responsibilities, what hers are, and what things need to be done.
  • Try telling your child "No" a few times so she can see how it feels. It's not so much fun when the shoe is on the other foot.
  • Try reverse psychology. If you have a child in this age range who doesn't want to do her homework, try saying, "Okay, but you will have to explain to the teacher why you didn't get it done and take the bad grade." Chances are, she will change her mind and get it done.
  • Keep requests emotionless. Whether it is taking the garbage out or picking up toys, make requests a statement of fact rather than something emotional. Your child will soon see that she can't hurt you by not doing what you ask; that it is just something that needs to be done.

One of the most important ways to keep your child from saying "No!" is to give praise and reward good behavior. If you focus on positive parenting, your child will want to engage in more of the good behavior, and you can leave the "No!" responses behind once and for all.