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Parenting and No!

There's a fine line between letting our kids grow, learn, and explore and setting reasonable boundaries. Positive discipline involves saying "no" to your preschooler or kindergartner.

When to say "no" to your child

As your child grows, you'll need to adjust your use of the word "no." For very young children, "no" is usually reserved for situations that pose immediate danger like touching a hot stove, approaching a strange dog, or running into the street. You may use the word "no" for preschoolers in a context of social interactions with other children. Taking toys, hitting, biting, or other unacceptable behavior may elicit a strong "no." Your kindergartner may hear a lot of "no's" to his requests. "No" is the way that most parents combat the "I-wants." One of the most important lessons parents learn as their children grow is how to pick their battles. Sometimes what could be a "no" should be an "ok" or at least a non-issue. Under most circumstances, we don't encourage our children to get dirty, but the joy your five-year-old experiences as he rolls around in the grass and mud with his dog may overrule an immediate "no."

Be Consistent with Parenting Style

The word "no" means nothing if it's used inconsistently. Kids will learn quickly to manipulate parents into giving in if you let them. Don't cave in after ten minutes of nagging and let your child do something you originally said "no" to. All you're teaching him is that "no" means "try harder." We seem to say "no" to our kids so often that it's nice to occasionally say "yes." If you're always saying "no" to things like an age-inappropriate movie, try substituting "no" with "not that one, but how about¦"

Communicate with No

The word "no" is bound to cause some frustration for both parent and child. Remember to use the word calmly and to listen as your child expresses his frustration (constructively). Ultimately, saying "no" to kids is necessary and healthy. But, remember to pick your battles, offer a substitute, communicate, and listen.