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No, No, No – Do you ever feel like that’s what you say all day?

Some days with our toddlers and children feel like they are filled with events which aren’t going well… the children are yelling at each other, or smearing paint on the floor, or hassling the cat, or jumping on the sofa. And we hear ourselves saying ‘No’ for the umpteenth time today… And the children don’t really seem to be listening to us!

Most of us ‘zone out’ if we hear words repeated over and over – meaning that they become less effective in their message because they are overused. ‘No’ may one of those words your child hears too often, and they lean to ignore it.

Do you wish there was another way? Well, here are some other ways to give the message ‘No’, without using that word!

  • The first is to tell the child what you want them to DO rather than what to ‘stop’. Instead of saying: ‘No, don’t jump on the sofa’… instead say: ‘Sit on the sofa, chairs are for sitting. If you want to jump let’s go out to the trampoline.’
  • Use distraction – Instead of saying: ‘No, don’t do xyz’ instead, ask them could they please get the cloth from the kitchen or get your glasses from the bedroom – most young children are keen to help.
  • Give them a choice. ‘Would you like to play Lego blocks now, or go out to the sandpit – you choose’ (to get them away from the dolls they are hassling over.)
  • Ask him to move away – ‘Please come here and help me with….’ Or ‘Please move away from Sarah and let’s read this book.’

  • Ask her what she’s doing – If she’s throwing the blocks, ask her: “what’s happening with your building? Tell me about it’ – this may lead to sharing her frustration, and ultimately some problem solving!
  • Give an invitation – ‘Why don’t you and I start making lunch together. What shall we make today?’
  • Simply get her attention – Call out her name (not shouting) – this may be enough to alert her to her behaviour.
  • Take direct action – remove the toy he’s damaging, or the book she’s about to throw.
  • Offer a possible solution – ‘Would it help to move it (the construction) onto the floor?’ – sometimes children get frustrated and angry when buildings don’t go the way they want!
  • Remember that children are more likely to misbehave when they are low in energy – either because they are hungry, or tired. The solution – give them some nutritious food, or help them to settle for a sleep or a rest time – maybe lay down together and read books.
  • And yes, there are times when a direct NO is the best possible response!


The above are suggestions are for the days when you find yourself feeling like ‘No’ is all you are saying! Sometimes these days happen when it is actually the parent who is tired or cranky them selves and therefore has less energy to deal effectively with their child’s behavior. On these days it’s often best to head out to the local park – grabbing a coffee along the way, and enjoy the sunshine whilst the children climb on the equipment and collect fallen leaves or pebbles – calm will soon be restored!

Remember all behaviour has a purpose, but not all behaviour is effective (at getting what you want). Your child is learning about how to behave well and will need lots of opportunities to practice – sometimes getting it right and other times not. Children learn things best when they have your gentle support to encourage them – that’s why I use the motto: ‘Calm and Consistent’ with all the parents I work with – it is simply the best way to parent effectively!

Have a happy Calm and Consistent parenting week!

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