Saying No, Without Saying No!


"You are often not the cause but could be the solution"

“I said NO!”,
“you CAN’T…!”.

These are just a few of the phrases I am sure you have used today to either get your child to stop what they are doing, listen to you, stop fighting with you or a sibling, or move from one activity to the next?

Do you mostly get a negative response or it ends up in a power struggle or attitude from your child, especially when you say “NO!”?

How can we word these statements in a different way, to not just get their cooperation, but to also teach them about shared problem solving; making plans together as a team and; turning these messy moments into magnificent teaching moments instead of … FIGHTING!

positive parenting

Food for thought: Defiance often stems from a child feeling overloaded, wanting to feel secure and in control and to protect themselves …. What could be the reasons for your child’s behaviour?

Have you tried these steps?

Step 1:

Agree with your child or acknowledge their need (this keeps them calmer and does not put them in the “defensive” mode).

Some examples of Acknowledgment statements:

  • I know you don’t want to take your shoes off
  • I know you want that toy
  • I know you want to go outside
  • Jumping on the couch looks like fun. I would like you to…
  • That game is fun so let’s play that after
  • I know you still want to play on your iPad or watch TV etc
  • I know would you like to go out with your friends so how about we discuss options.


Some examples of Empathise statements:

  • I know it is hard to take your shoes off but how about trying this… Or this… (empower your child)
  • I know you don’t want to tidy up your room ….. let’s think about how we can help this family and have some fun together….

Step 2:

Instead of putting their minds on the “negative” try putting their minds and focus on the “positive” (make the positive sound way more fun than the negative).

Some examples:

  • Instead of saying don’t jump on the couch how about hop down OR can you jump down on the floor?
  • Instead of saying don’t throw your toys how about throw it in this box OR put your toy over here.
  • Instead of saying don’t open the door how about can you close the door by yourself?
  • Instead of saying stop shouting! how about hey, can we talk about this? OR start this conversation over?

Step 3:

Praise their positive actions so you boost that little ego that was so ready and strong to “attack” and “fight” with you by complimenting that “better” behaviour you would rather want.

Some examples:

  • Wow! Did you jump all the way on the floor? You are just sooooo big.
  • Wow! Great throwing into the box! I am going to try that too.
  • You are so strong! Look at those muscles closing the door!
  • It really makes me happy when we listen to each other this well! We are a great team, you know.


Kids mostly try to control or fight when they are feeling out-of-control so by focusing on the positive, you are giving them a bit of that.

Step 4: (Still not listening?)

Redirect in a few different ways. Offer two choices (this can often also break down the difficult or unwanted task into more manageable steps) of what they can do!

Acknowledge first. Some examples:

  • It looks like you want to throw something… let’s throw the beanbags or let’s go throw the balls outside.
  • It looks like you want to jump! Let’s jump on the trampoline or let’s jump on the pillows.
  • It looks like you want to hit something because you are angry… let’s go hit the beanbag or punch the pillows.
  • It looks like you want to eat something now… How about your apple first and then the biscuit or I know you want the chocolate but how about we eat the biscuit or the carrot stick?


Redirect to change the behaviour completely. For example:

  • Oh-oh look what I’ve found! Start to slowly blow bubbles or blow a balloon up and let it go. This often slows down breathing and it redirects their attention to something fun.


Prepare them with anticipation. For example:

  • In a minute, we are going to get our shoes to go to school/in 10 seconds we are going to switch the TV off/we can play iPad today for ten minutes so let’s set the timer and after that we can play wrestling!


One can also set the scene by discussing these examples:

  • In ten seconds I am going to ask you to get your bag. Is that going to put you in that screaming mode again? Hmm I wonder what we can do today instead of screaming? Shall we try… Or…? Introducing the inevitable through an anticipatory discussion takes the shock out of it and it allows all to see the situation in perspective and can assist in them being more cooperative.
  • First… then… This often helps kids to know that they will get TV time/iPad time/their treat but to first do what you need them to do.


Still stuck??? Contact us to discuss our successful 7-Step Behaviour Plan.


Great read: The Challenging Child by Stanley Greenspan
More great info/Approach: DIR Model Floortime Approach (Accredited Provider – RTC Speech)