Instead of constantly saying “Don’t do this,” “Don’t do that,” and “No” to your child, learn how say no to the little ‘un without actually saying the words. Choosing your words in a more careful, thoughtful way makes it easier to set boundaries without feeling like the bad guy all the time. Besides, constantly saying no gets exhausting fast! Use the following tips to say no in healthier ways.
Affirm the Child’s Feelings
Little children simply want you to understand where they are coming from, that you get why they want to watch more television, stay up a little longer, or eat ice cream. Help them feel validated by affirming their wishes first. For example, say “I get that you want to stay up. I want to stay up too,” or “Of course you want another bowl of ice cream. I love ice cream too!” Make it clear that you understand your child. It goes a long, long way.
Do an “Energy Shift”
Shift the energy of the conversation by compromising. For example, you could say “Okay, how about you pick a night this weekend to stay up 15 minutes past your bedtime? I will write a note so I won’t forget. If you go to bed now, you will be able to stay up later this weekend without feeling tired,” or “I get that you want another cookie. How about we save it for tomorrow after lunch and we pick a healthy snack for you to eat now?”
Shifting the energy helps the child focus on something else instead of wanting to “win the battle.”
Reflect and Connect
Reflect your child’s emotions back to him or her as another way to help the child feel understood and validated. You could say, “You are upset that it is bedtime right now because you want to stay awake” or “You want ice cream and are mad you have to wait until tomorrow.” Children are much more likely to concede when they feel understood instead of resisted.
Hope these tips help you communicate in a better way with your child!