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What Every Parent Needs to Know About "No"

Have you ever said "No" to your child? Of course you have. The use of "No" certainly has its place, but only if it's used effectively. The problem is, "No" is just a word. Likewise, a tornado siren is just a sound and a traffic signal is just a light until they are associated with something that is meaningful to us. We take action when we see a traffic light turn red or hear a tornado siren because we know they are associated with important events. If your child is going to respond to you when you say "No", then he needs to know that there will be some meaningful action associated with it.

Here are a few things to consider when helping your child learn the meaning of "No".

   "No" is not a suggestion. 
When you say "No", it means "Stop".  Providing immediate consequences, consistently and frequently, will help your child learn this. 

Volume is not the solution. 
If you say "No" and your child ignores you, repeating it multiple times as loud as you possibly can is not going to help her understand the meaning of "No". It will just result in her putting her hands over her ears or becoming very good at tuning you out. Just as a stoplight does not get brighter when it turns red, there is no need to make your "No" louder.

Action is the key. 
After you have issued one "No", your child needs to receive feedback from you. If he stopped and complied when you said "No", praise him. If he ignores you, respond in the most appropriate manner necessary to help him understand that "No" is not a suggestion, it's a demand. Saying "No" multiple times, with no meaningful consequence, teaches your child that it's a demand that can be ignored. This, in turn, reduces your authority as a parent and increases the likelihood your child will learn to ignore future requests. On the other hand, providing immediate and meaningful consequences after you have issued a "No" will help your child find meaning in your command and will serve as a future cue that he needs to pay attention when he hears "No".