By Jodi Milner

Jodi Milner author/bio pic

Confrontation. For most people confrontation is something to be avoided at all costs because of the stress and anxiety it produces. However, for moms confrontation is part of the routine. Kids are going to be kids, which means in the course of any given day, you’re going to have to tell them “no.”

The word “no” comes with all sorts of baggage, both for the mom and for the child. Chances are, whenever you have to tell your child “no”, they are going to react badly. Yes, there are times when you HAVE to say “no,” like when your kid is in danger and needs to listen immediately. For everything else, there is a little trick that can change the tone of the discussion from a fight to a compromise.

Changing “no” into a “yes”

In Psychology Today, they teach a parenting technique called pivoting. Instead of saying “No, we can’t play outside right now” you change the same idea into a “yes” statement that means the same thing. “Yes, we can play outside after the rain stops.” The word “yes” is an instant win in any kid’s mind. They are getting what they want, albeit conditionally. 

Not only does a “yes” statement help avoid a possible tantrum, but it also sets expectations and realistic limits. “Yes, you can play video games as soon as you finish your 20 minutes of reading,” lets the kid know that you will allow them to do the thing they want to do, but you want something in return.

If your kid knows you aren’t going to change your mind, but you’ll do what you promise, then they are far more willing to do as you ask.

As with all techniques, consistency and dependability is the magic ticket. If your kid knows you aren’t going to change your mind, but you’ll do what you promise, then they are far more willing to do as you ask.

Sometimes it’s hard to come up with a good compromise, especially if your kid catches you at a bad time. Prepare in advance so you don’t have to think about your answer in the moment and possibly promise something you aren’t willing to deliver. If you haven’t done anything like this before, it might take a few tries before you get the hang of it. That’s okay.  

Creating an environment of flexibility and understanding

My household has several neurodivergent people in it. We learned really early that saying “no” earned us a fast trip to tantrum town. Saying “Yes, as long as…” got us where we needed to go much faster and taught my kids that it was okay to ask for what they wanted, that they’d get a fair hearing and an explanation for whatever parenting decision needed to be made.

Is it a perfect solution? Nope. There are times when no one gets what they want. But, it’s certainly given me a much better tool than simply shutting down the conversation with an absolute no. 

Discussion Question: Do you get anxious whenever you have to tell someone “no”?


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