Setting healthy boundaries with children allows them to understand limits and can be helpful when teaching them about what’s right and wrong. Yet when trying to be firm, it is so easy to fall into the “no” trap – saying “no” to everything your little one does. This may lead to future feelings of rebellion and resentment from your child, so what’s a parent to do?
Here are a few things you can do and say instead of the immediate “no” response:
Say This #1: I know you like to eat this, but too much is not good.
When your toddler wants to eat another sugary treat or something that may not be the healthiest choice, you can deter them by saying too much of it is not good for them. They will eventually understand that when it comes to certain treats, there are limits to what they can have.
Say This #2: You don’t need to knock those toys down. Let me show you how to play.
This is a great way to get involved and show your little one how to play properly without destroying the toy room (or other kids’ toys). Simply show them how to play with toys the right way and how much fun it is when you do!
Say This #3: I can’t understand you when you whine like that. Just tell me in your regular voice.
Another great way to encourage less meltdowns and more communication is to tell your toddler to speak normally. By doing so, they can calm down when they are upset and then explain what is wrong. Be calm when you say this to show them that you are not upset, but rather will wait for them to calm down before talking.
Say This #4: Things need time to grow. Let’s be gentle with these things.
If your little one likes to get their hands on things like flowers and plants, this is a great way to let them know how to handle delicate living things.
Say This #5: I need my phone now, but you can have this toy.
For those kids who like playing around with your phone and can’t get enough, try the bait and switch method – offer them something else to play with while you take your phone (or tablet, etc) back.
Say This #6: We use our words not our hands.
Instead of saying, “No hitting your sister,” try to encourage your children to use words to express their frustrations. This will teach them that hitting or using hands to show anger are not acceptable forms of behaviour and that communicating will help the situation.
Say This #7: Oh, mommy is going to get you!
Using humour can help lighten situations and make everyone feel a bit better. Try using laughter to turn situations around when they are feeling stubborn and irritable.
There are plenty of ways to say “no” without saying “no.” What are your best ways to do that?
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