Saying no to your child or any child for that matter is tricky business but I think I’ve found a very affective framework that works most of the time.
1. Always have something else to put the focus on after saying no.
We are not going to drag chairs on the floor because it makes scratches (as you put the chair away), lets have a drink, read a book, dance, etc.
If you do not have something else to direct the focus to that is positive, you risk getting into a power struggle which is never fun. If this keeps up, it could become the norm and foundation of your interaction which is very unhealthy for the both of you.
2. Avoid eye contact
This is very important because children can read your mind by looking into your eyes. If you are seeking approval, are weak in your leadership, are thinking negative thoughts, etc, your child will pick up on it and may use it as a red light for a tug-a-war. So saying no is best said in passing as you move on to the next focus.
3. Separate the child from the behavior
No behavior should ever cause you to take your love away.
I love you, that will never change but this behavior is not serving you, me or the greater good. Look at the child saying I love you. Look away and point to the left or right and say I don’t like that behavior then move on.
If we attack the child it does them no good. After a while they will dislike you, hide from you, lie to you and stop trusting you.
4. Parent and leader first
Many parents make the mistake of trying to be a friend to their children. This is okay, when they get much older.
In the moment of conflict, your child may not like you. This is normal and they may even be testing this strategy as a way to influence you. Stand your ground. I have even told children “It’s okay if you don’t like me right now. I still love you and that will never change.” This will pass.
5. Let Your Children Feel
Often parents are not comfortable with children crying or freaking out emotionally. As a result, they give in. What I found that works best in the area of children developing their emotional intelligence is to let them feel. Create a space around them that makes it okay to feel, cry, act out, etc. It will pass and it’s much better than holding it in. Feelings are not right or wrong. Feelings need to be felt.
If you have a specific situation where you need some help, post in the comment section below and I will help you come up with a strategy you can test.