Sometimes, we can’t help but feel guilty if we have to say no to our children. Perhaps it’s because of the combination of different morals and beliefs. Or maybe it’s the negative notion of the word no. Other times, you might feel bad saying no to your child, especially if you are a busy parent. 

You might think that always appealing to your kids and saying yes is a way of making up for being busy. Of course, we want our kids to always feel happy, so our way of doing that is by agreeing to what they want. However, it is about time that we break these habits and say no to our kids every once in a while. 

You’re Not Destroying Your Child’s Self-Esteem

One of the reasons parents have a hard time saying no to their kids is that they feel it has a negative effect on their children’s self-esteem. It’s important that we strengthen our children’s self-esteem at a young age so that they’ll feel capable throughout life. But somehow, this feels contradicted if we were to say no to them. It feels like we are not acknowledging our children’s feelings, isn’t it?

However, you have to know that saying no is not going to destroy your child’s self-esteem. Understand that strong self-esteem is not just built from having all our likes obeyed and given to us. Appealing our kids’ demands and always saying yes strays them from the realities of the world.. Instead, allow them to feel different experiences where they’ll come out more competent. You won’t be able to do this if the child grows up with a high sense of entitlement. 

Saying No Can Be Beneficial in the Long Run

Yes, you read that right. Saying no is actually beneficial for kids in the long run. The simple explanation behind this is that the initial negative feeling that they’ll feel will help them build determination. Sure, your child will feel disappointed if they don’t get what they want. But they have to practice how to deal with this negative emotion early on. 

If you think about it, your child will realize that there will be times where they need to be resourceful. Some things in life require patience and hard work. But your child will not learn how to hone those characteristics if they get things easily and handed to them by mom and dad. Your child is smart, and he/she can manage his/her own behavior. If we encourage our kids to prioritize what is right and necessary, even if that means not getting what they want, they’ll build a better character. 

When to Say No to Your Kids

Needs Over Wants

To give you a better example of when it’s okay to say no to kids, understand your priorities at the moment. It’s the good old battle of the wants versus needs. And as an adult, I’m sure you know which of these two is the clear winner. 

One of the things that parents usually dread is when their child throws a tantrum in the mall. They must have the toy they want, or else he/she will be mad at you. At that moment, the solution I feel like doing is just immediately satisfying my daughter and giving her what she wants. It feels like it’s a win-win because she will stop making a fuss, and I won’t look like a bad mom. 

However, this can easily turn into a bad habit both for you and your child. Remember what we’ve talked about earlier? Your child needs to learn how to face and handle negative emotions such as disappointment in order to be prepared for the real world. They have to understand that there are some things that they can’t have even if they want it. 

Some Sacrifices are Necessary

So what can you do in a situation like the one I mentioned? Acknowledge why it’s understandable that they can like something, but still be firm with your decision. For example, your child has to understand that compromises and sacrifices are part of life. 

Children often feel like their “needs” have to be prioritized over others. But this doesn’t mean that your child is always going to be selfish. As a parent, we can take this opportunity to let them understand the importance of generosity and empathy. 

For example, you can give your child an idea of why he/she can’t go on a trip because his/her sibling is sick. Let him/her know that the sibling needs to be taken care of and that he/she is not doing it to compete with them. 

Preventing Trouble

Another instance where it should be an easy decision why you should say no to your child is when safety is at risk. For example, I’ve read this guide on how to choose scooters for kids, so I’m aware of what scooter model I should start my child with. 

However, my son insists that he can already try the two-wheel model that his friend uses. After some time explaining the potential bad outcomes and that it’s okay to use a different-looking scooter, my son finally agreed.

Children need guidance to explain why some decisions might hurt them or cause danger to others. Saying no will allow them to practice some time to think first before doing something and make better choices.

How to Say No to Your Kids

Offer a Specific Answer and Explain Why

It’s understandable for your child to feel frustrated, especially if you can’t give a definite answer to why you have to disagree and say no to them. This just leads to begging and whining, so you have to be authoritative yet clear to why it’s not going to happen. If you don’t, your child will probably just end up thinking that mom or dad is doing it just to be mean. So when you have to say no, be clear about your reasons. 

Give an Alternative

Lastly, another trick that you can do is by simply offering an alternative or multiple choices instead of directly saying no. For example, your child might want to play video games for longer. Instead of taking the privilege fully, offer options. Say that they can either stop now and do their homework so they can play for 30 minutes longer or continue playing but won’t be allowed to play again later on. Redirection is an excellent way of saying no without looking like a bad parent, especially with very young kids.