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  1. Remove items from view that are going to set up a situation for a no response.
    Pre plan your day to have fresh in your mind, built in to use as distractions. Toddlers need adult attention frequently so build in regular times to give that attention prior to the demands for attention. When giving reasons why certain behaviours are not acceptable, keep your explanations short & to the point. Always be kind & loving in your interactions. Build in parent breaks & use these breaks for managing stressors & not to catch up on what on what you’re behind in doing. Raising your child is the most important job so build that into your routine. They grow up so fast & it’s easy to get stuck in trying to undo negatives because positives are harder to instill when a negative has been learned over & over. Visual example is much stronger teaching than verbal negatives being corrected. When your child is a teenager he/she will tell you how they saw through what you were saying & still tested to see what your reaction would be. Truth always shines through. Ps When you find out what they were thinking as a toddler you will then find humor in it. Don’t work so hard at raising your child but enjoy them as you both grow together.

  2. I’m a retired teacher (y3-6). Thank you for you thoughtful article with which I largely agree. I would only beg for sympathy and support for teachers. Ive always had a class of over 30, up to 38 one year ..2007 I think. Whilst your techniques are really good and entirely appropriate for home/parental situations, school discipline is entirely different. Yes we try to work with kindness and positive reinforcements time constraints and numbers mean that we CANNOT act like you and may handle things differently than you would at home. I’ve had parents complain to the Head (wrong always go to class teacher first) that I’ve traumatised their child. Working for a Headteacher later ‘removed’ by the County I was given a dressing down by her but when the complain was actually looked at it was usually that I couldn’t be as warm and cuddly as Mum, didn’t have the time to find alternate solutions etc.
    Unless you have any idea your child is being SERIOUSLY harmed please, please rememer that your child’s teacher is generally a kind , intelligent, highly trained person trying to do a difficult (but yes often rewarding) job. Try to remember you usually have to deal with one child at a time whereas teachers usually have at least 30 and rarely get the chance to talk to your child alone unless they give up their lunch or break. Teachers are not staying in the Primary sector. When I started I met many teachers who’d been happy for 30 years. No longer…we are torn between parents at one end of the spectrum who don’t give a damn about education, school or even their children in some cases through to what we call “pushy parents’ who want Public school services in a State school.

    I hope this makes sense. My health eventually cracked because of said Headteacher and I developed Chronic Fatigue/ Fibromyalgia and Type to diabetes, I say this not to ask for sympathy just to say I get a lot of “Fibro Fog’ basically loss of concentration, inability to find the right word….so anything I write is much more difficult and consequently less good than it would’ve been when I was well.

    1. Dear Lorna,

      Thank you very much for sharing your experience. I really feel for you, Lorna. Teachers have it so hard and you are right, the pressure to please so many people with so many different ideas about the best way to educate children is immense.

      And, of course, you raise a really good point in that the classroom setting is very different. It doesn’t help, of course, that the ratio of teacher to students continues to increase but hardly any help is given the teacher.

      I hope you are keeping well in these unprecedented times.



  3. This is the worst way to teach a child because in the part where to say why not to yelling at the top of your lungs it’s so they don’t make a habit out of it and no is an important thing you can say no stop and then say don’t eat a thumbtack it will hurt you.

    1. Hi Ronan, thanks for your comment. I know this is what goes on in the parents’s minds but I would love to see the evidence that shows this is an effective way to impart information. 🙂

    2. Like at the daycare, I child proofed my house to make it a safe environment for the baby as he grew up. That’s a lot of No I didn’t have to say .
      For food, I don’t eat junk food so there is none in the house. For sweets there is lots of fruits especially blueberries which is easy to eat.
      For behavior, as Iam teaching him the social interactions, I would get him to observe others and get his opinions.
      When he was three years old, we were at a restaurant and there was a kid on the floor screaming in a tantrum. We both looked at him, I asked Do we do that? He rolled his eyes and said No.
      I had to keep from laughing he was so cute.

      1. I am a pediatric nurse, and several years ago attended a training course for the Webster-Stratton “Wonderful Years” parenting course, to be able to lead & run these courses. The most valuable tool as an alternative to the “NO” was “when…….then”, so using the chocolate example and breakfast I would put that over as “when you have had breakfast, then you can have some chocolate.”
        Being a parent is a tough unpaid job, I feel helping someone through the rough parts without belittling them is crucial.

  4. It can be so hard to not say “no” when it’s just a common habit we’ve been so used to for so long. I think there is lots of value in trying to break the habit though!

    1. Oh yes! Even knowing the research, we really have to be very conscious of how often we trip up and say “no”. It’s a negative world we live in after all and we’re all pretty much raised this way. So, of course, it can be hard – just like forming a new habit. But unless we do more of it, we’d never get there. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. x

  5. No is definitely a word that my kids have heard of more than I would like to count. I do try to watch what I say and phrase things differently.

  6. This was a really great read. No is often the easiest word to say but sometimes children hear it so often it begins to lack meaning to them. This is very helpful.

    1. Hi Elizabeth, thanks for commenting. Parenting is so hard sometimes and we’re juggling so many things at once that it’s just so easy to forget about this side of things. Also, we’re pretty used to being told no ourselves so of course, we do it practically automatically. It really takes a lot of work to stay aware of why we say no and how often we do it. 🙂

  7. These are amazing tips! Although I don’t have kids I think every parent should understand and know how to deal with their kids. Awesome info.

  8. Love this post thank you. I haven’t children but have done a fair bit of childminding so got myself “How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk” & recognise some of the approach.. Appreciate your clarity and examples.. SUCH important info as you say for the adults they will become as well as the ease & healthiness of interactions meanwhile. Blessings to you & all

    1. Hi Judith, thank you very much for stopping by and sharing your experience. We love that book and it is very well-thumbed in our house! Have you read Dr. Laura Markham’s Peaceful Parents, Happy Kids? If you found the How To Talk series helpful, you’ll absolutely love her too. ??

  9. I really doimd this article not just informative, but very educative. I know tnat  as parents, times without number we’ve been told to use less no and more alternatives words

     but I’ve never been the patient type, so when I try to use an alternative but it doesn’t work, then I am right back at using no.

    But what  I have come to learn is that saying no always truly doesn’t help like you stated, most times it even worsens situations.

    I have had my little girl scream back countless nos’ to me when trying to get her to do things.

    So I do agree it doesn’t really sound nice to keep repeating it.

    I will surely try out these strategies you’ve listed above. It sure looks like a better way to get across to them.

    Thanks for sharing…

    1. You’re welcome, Queen.

      If I’m honest, I wrote this post for precisely the situation you described. 

      I know in my head that saying “no” doesn’t help and just makes the situation worse but in the heat of the moment when my boy is hopping mad and I’m angry/frustrated, all my good intentions fly out the window.

      Eventually, I decided to put all the techniques that actually work for me (when I remember to use them) in one place.

      Give them a try (but remember to take a deep bracing breath before you say anything – I found that really helpful) and do let us know how you get on.

      Good luck!

  10. I believe I said it three times today so far; when my child wanted to play a game after we had just played one. What happened? I ended up playing another game aftercall. Children sometimes get their way when we are distracted I think. I have seen this in my life. 

    1. Oh, indeed. 

      Distraction is a technique many parents use and it’s often effective. However, children then learn to use the same thing. They’re like little sponges. Little, absolutely genius sponges.

      Try the alternatives on this page and see if they help. 

      But mostly, make sure that you are well-rested and not too stressed (I know this is a tall order for any parent with young children).

      Good luck and do let us know how you get on! 🙂

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