The gift of the word, “No:” 2 ways to teach acceptance

by  sboneham via Flickr

by sboneham via Flickr

One of the most powerful behaviors you can teach your child is how to behave when told, “no.”

I was recently pleased to read an article about teaching children resiliency when things do not go their way. I have written about it regarding a parent who tried too hard to keep her children happy and when warning about the dangers of trying to avoid every tantrum or pooched out lip.

Here is the newsflash: your kids are not always going to get what they want!

Your kids are going to hear, “no,” and you do not necessarily need to dance around it. So, you might as well take on the chore of teaching your child how to respond when they face these situations.

Here are two things to do:

Give them what they want every now and then…
Occasionally, when you say, “no” and your child accepts it…says, “OK” or walks away making another choice, call him back to you and tell him you are happy he accepted it. Tell him you knew he wanted it, but when you said, “no” he accepted it. Then offer to him what you previously denied.

For example, if your daughter comes up and asks if she can watch her favorite princess show before going to bed and you tell her, “no.” When she accepts it, stop her and say, “You know what? I appreciate how you accepted that, would you like to watch 10 minutes of your princess show?”

All of a sudden, that 10 minutes of princess time is gold. You have given your daughter exactly what she wanted the most after she gave you the behavior you wanted the most.

Give them something to say:
I have written before about giving kids the behavior to do when telling them what not to do and that is still the case when it comes to teaching the right response to a disappointing situation. I have also written about lessons my kids have learned (OK, what we as parents have learned) from Dora the Explorer. Here is another one.

In the show, there is a character named “Swiper” who tries to steal things, and when caught, says (go ahead…say it out loud, no one’s listening)


Well, we do not watch a lot of Dora at our house anymore, but if you are around enough, you will hear those same words. That is what we have taught our kids to say as a replacement for bickering, complaining, or freaking out. Does it work all the time? No, absolutely not. But, there are many more times it works than when it does not. When the kids ask for something and we know they really want it, we will say, “say, ‘AWWW MAAAAN.'” It gives us something for the kids to say and something for us to reinforce when they say it.

You do not have to follow my lead, but you do need to find what behavior it is that you want to replace the bickering or complaining. It does not matter what it is, just that it is an appropriate and more desirable response than what you might be getting otherwise. And, when they do it…reinforce that by giving them what they want every now and then. It will pay back benefits in many ways.

The best thing it will do is teach them they will not always get what they want, and that not getting what they want is not always a bad thing.

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