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The Best Ways to Say NO
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Tanya Altmann, MD, FAAP posted:
Saying "No!" packs a powerful punch. We use it often -- sometimes too often -- without even realizing it. To our children, we say, "No. Don't touch that! No. You can't have a cookie before dinner. No. You don't need another (insert child's favorite toy here)."

As children get older, we teach them to say no if asked to do something they don't feel comfortable with. And as adults we say no to avoid adding more tasks to our already hectic schedules. With young children, it's very important to say no when appropriate -- specifically when you mean it and in ways that will not discourage your children from communicating with you as parents.

With Infants, Know Your "No"
The art of saying no as a parent develops when your child is still a baby. Initially, most parents are yes-parents. You give your baby what she needs and what she demands at this age. It's fairly simple and routine. At around 9 months of age, your baby may begin to recognize your no's. You may see her stop and hesitate while playing when she hears you say no. This is around the time when children become mobile. So at this time, parents often transition from saying yes in cute and loving tones, to saying no, initially in sweeter tones, but later more matter-of-factly.

For Your Toddler, Make Every "No" Matter
Try to avoid cluttering your home with no's. Keep things that you don't want your child to touch out of his reach and safeguard potential dangers, such as electric sockets and stair ways. Setting up your home in a manner where you aren't constantly saying no makes your no's more powerful and allows your toddler to explore freely and safely. And your toddler can learn about their environments without being disciplined and discouraged every step of the way.

At this age, your child will quickly learn to say no, too. So be creative and use substitutes for "no", such as "Not safe" or "Put that down". Also, turn no-statements into positive ones. Instead of saying "No. We don't throw toys" try saying something like "We throw balls outside."

When You Say No to Your Preschooler, Mean It
Consistency is key. So don't give in. If your preschooler learns that throwing a tantrum will turn your no into a yes, your no's lose power. You can only reason so much with a preschooler. But remember, every moment can be a teaching moment. So explain your no's and offer better choices, such as "No. It's not TV time. It's a beautiful day and Mommy would love to take a walk with you and get some exercise. Let's go count bugs!"

Be mindful of your no's. Enjoy more yes-days with your kids than no-days. Save the no's for when you really need them.

Have any no-stories to share? How do you say no to your children and model the use of the word for your children?
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