The Art of Saying No to Your Child

Not long ago I shared a post about the difficulty of seeing our children experience disappointments.  This was a huge eye opener for me.  Even though it is difficult and quite heart wrenching for us as parents to watch our child experience disappointment, it is quite necessary for their future as a healthy adult member of our society.  That particular post titled Re-experiencing Life’s Disappointments the Second Time Around I focused on disappointments that are out of our control.  For example, not making a team they tried out for, not becoming first chair in the band, not getting the part they wanted in the school play, etc.

Today, I want to focus more on the disappointments our children face we as parents DO have control over.

I was reminded of a time when I was in elementary school.  I’ve always been social.  My friends and I enjoyed having sleep overs at each others house.  One day I asked my Mom if I could spend the night with a friend of mine and she said, “no.”  I think my friend and I had already talked about all the fun stuff we were going to do together that night, so I was very disappointed my Mom said I could not go.  In my mind I was sure I was going to miss out on what would be a life altering time with my friend.  I felt I was going to die.  I remember pleading with her over and over to please let me go to my friends house.

My Mom finally said to me, “You can ask me until the moon comes home and the answer will still be no.”

Has anyone ever heard this phrase before?  Where in the world did that come from?  The moon will not be coming home, which I’m sure is the exact point, but still…funny thing is…I found myself saying the exact thing to my Daughter when she would not take no for an answer.  Has something similar happened to you?

Over 17 years of parenting I figured out there are other ways to say No besides using the actual word No.  The word No usually solicited a horrible response from my kids, especially when they were younger.  More importantly, it was good to use these tactics while in public.  I’m not the kind of Mom who can tune out their kids whines and tantrums, nor do I want to be inconsiderate of others and make them witness my child’s fit.  Who wants to go shopping only to hear a child screaming in their ear?  I certainly don’t.

Shan’s tactics on saying No

  • “If it’s under $___, yes.”

For example, recently my youngest asked if I could buy her a book she found while we were at the store to buy groceries.  I knew how much the book was.  I think it was about $10.  So I told her, “If it’s under $5 I’ll buy it for you.”  She looked at the price and put the book back on the shelf.

I’m a firm believer in NOT buying your child something every time you go to the store {even if you have the money.}  If you do, you are potentially breeding entitlement.  If you begin the habit of purchasing something for your child every time you go to the store they will expect it.  What does this teach your child?

  • “I’ll think about it.”

Even if in my mind I know the answer is no, I’ll say “I’ll think about it” so as not to illicit a meltdown.  Since my kids do read this blog from time to time, I have to say that not every time I say “I’ll think about it” means I’m thinking no.  For the sake of this post, when I do know the answer is no, saying this phrase gives the child time to ponder the possible answer will be no and it alleviates an immediate tantrum or argument.  I find the kids are more likely to take the no answer after using this tactic…basically time.

  •   “Not today.”

This says, we aren’t going to get ice cream today after school but we will in the future.  Pretty simple, but not having to use the word No.

  • “Maybe”

This one is very similar to “I’ll think about it” and gives the child time to contemplate the reality of a possible no answer.

  • “Absolutely NOT.”

This is used in severe cases like when my Son asked me for an iPhone.

  • “Let’s do that next week.”

I use this when we are having a busy week and we really can’t fit the activity they are requesting into the schedule.  This could also be “let’s do that tomorrow” or “let’s do that next month.”

  • “I don’t have enough money.”

Early in our marriage and family we didn’t know if we could pay all the bills.  We had a budget and we tried diligently to stick to that budget.  When kids are young they don’t understand what a budget is.  As they get older I believe it is important to explain what a budget is, explain what a checking account is, explain what a credit card & debit card is.  The younger they are the more likely this answer will not be a fit preventive.  But as they get older and understand what this means, what more can they say to that?  It is completely okay to share with your children if you don’t have the money to pay for frivolous things they want.  I heard this phrase as I was growing up and I appreciate they saw fit to teach me about money.  Do not ever let your pride of not making enough money put you into debt because you don’t want to disappoint your kids.  One day they most likely will be where you are and they need to realize it’s okay; that you can make it through the tough time of making ends meet.

  • “You don’t have to like it.”

This is used when the kids say, “I don’t want to do _________.”  There are SO MANY things we have to do in this life that we don’t like to do.  It doesn’t matter if we like it or not, we have to do them to survive.

  • “Let’s do _________ (this) instead.”

This is a good one because the child doesn’t feel like they are losing anything.  And really it’s the art of compromise which is essential in relationships.

For example, it’s Friday and your child asks, “Can we go bowling tonight?”  Maybe you are tired from a long day at work and you don’t feel you have the energy to throw the bowling ball down the lane, so instead you say, “let’s go to the movies instead.”  Another example: “Mom, can we go to the mall and get me some new jeans?  The ones I have don’t fit anymore.”  You know you can’t afford mall jeans or you don’t want to go to the crowded mall on your day off.  Your reply could be: “Why don’t we check out the consignment store downtown instead?”  OR “Why don’t we go to T.J. Maxx {love that store} instead?”  OR “Why don’t we check out the garage sales tomorrow instead.  There are supposed to be some good ones in the neighborhood.”

  • “Sure, you can use your money to pay for that.”

Nothing like teaching your child the value of money then by allowing them to make purchases with money they’ve earned or have been given for a birthday gift.  I can’t tell you how many times I have said that to a child and they reply, “no, I don’t want to spend my money on that.”  They learn quickly how they can live without something if they have to buy it using their own money.

  • “No, no, no, no, no, no!”

This was my reply to a recent Son’s text about getting an iPhone.  Sometimes you do just have to say NO. 😉

Hopefully these No tactics can help you when you need them.

See the big picture,

“Are You In There?”

Tonight I have been preparing a lesson I will teach for our women’s Sunday School class tomorrow.  I am so grateful for this calling.  I learn so much from my studies/research and while teaching {or rather leading the discussion} I am taught by the students.

Being the visual person that I am, sometimes I like to involve media in the lessons I teach.  I finally found the perfect video to share that goes along with the lesson.  After it ended, another video began.  I was very touched by this video I happened {definitely not coincidence} upon.  It’s not related to the lesson I’m teaching, however it is indeed applicable to what I’m going through as a parent.  I’ve mentioned my struggles on here lately…I worry, maybe too much.  It’s been really rough.  So rough, I haven’t been blogging on a regular basis.  Even though it’s been rocky, my faith keeps me afloat.

I know Heavenly Father wanted me to see this video and it was a gift from Him to me.  He loves us so much…Oh and how grateful I am to know this…to FEEL this.

I believe we can all benefit from this precious counsel:

Be present for your family,

Perspective, Planning and Preparation

before we began

A change in your perspective can make a HUGE difference in your family. At the beginning of last week I told you about our decision to stay home for Spring Break.

In the recent past {say the last 3-4 years} I would have looked at this as torture. My kids don’t get along very well.  There it is.  I am admitting it.  I am being vulnerable by sharing how my family is indeed NOT perfect.  All three kids are in completely different stages in their life.  Honestly, for a while I had sort of given up on my dream of having a joyous family.  It seemed every time I would think things were going to be great, they wouldn’t.  Instead, we would have kids bickering and quarreling.  So, subconsciously I decided, what’s the point?  What’s the point in trying if it’s going to be a disaster?  I didn’t truly realize I had been thinking this until reevaluating last weeks Spring Break.

LOTS of soil

Last week was one of the most enjoyable Spring Breaks with my children.  It hasn’t been perfect, by any means.  Sure there was the usual, “Mom, he did this and she did that.”  There was still the whining and back talk…but not as much.  So I asked myself, why do you feel this way?  What is different?  I am here to tell you, it had everything to do with the three P’s: perspective, planning and preparation.



My perspective about Spring Break was completely different than my deadbeat counter part.  I made the decision to make the best of this week for my kids.  Let’s rewind a bit.  I think my change of outlook or “awakening” began the week my children were home from school for snow days.  During that time, I consciously decided I was going to make the most of the time my children & I had to spend together.  I didn’t worry so much about chores.  I thought of things we could do together and we did them.


This leads me to the planning part.  This is as simple as thinking about ideas of what we could do.  During snow week I thought of us building a snowman together.  I thought it would be fun if the girls and I played spa and did each others nails.  I thought about certain crafts we could do together, etc.  It’s basically a brainstorming session of what I thought I would enjoy doing as well as something they would enjoy too.  This is exactly what I did for Spring Break.  I knew the kids have been wanting to do a vegetable garden for a long time.  Why not now?

Work, work, work


In regards to the garden, I did a little research online about a family vegetable garden.  Each child chose some vegetables or fruits they wanted.  We decided together how it should be mapped out and I printed out our plans & supplies.  Monday we went shopping and bought the majority of our supplies.  Tuesday we put together the cedar boards for our above ground garden.  {We ended up making it bigger than we had planned.}  Next, we filled the bed with top soil, compost, planting soil and fertilizer.  Wednesday we took a break from the garden.  Thursday we set up a soaker hose & planted the seeds that could be planted in the ground {cucumbers, peas & peppers}.  We found out many needed to be started indoors or could not be planted until next month.  Preparation was KEY, not just in preparing of supplies and physically, but also mentally.  I mentally prepared myself for this task with my children. {Not to mention MANY prayers being offered}

Without changing my perspective, without planning and preparation, this week would have been a disaster.  Instead, it was filled with special times.  Special times filled with my youngest saying, “this is so much fun, Mom.”  Special times filled with good conversation, meals and love.

I am reminded, again, that joy doesn’t just happen.  You have to cultivate it with the 3 P’s.

our new vegetable garden {without the fence}


{I joined the pity party at Thirty Handmade Days}
Peas are good for you too,