Sean E. Heerey  ND, MA, CCC/SLP

Parents and caregivers get tired of saying “No”. Children don’t want to hear the word “No”. Setting limits and establishing boundaries are an important part of raising children.

Sometimes we feel that we have no option when dealing with a child and we must say “NO” quite emphatically and vociferously. Here is a typical scenario: It is time for dinner and your child wants a chocolate bar. Fortunately, there are several clever options in managing these situations.

Here are some helpful tips to change the dialogue between you and your child:

1. Distract- “Hey, did you just see that giant red fire truck?”

2. Pretend- “Sorry, no real chocolate before dinner. How about some pretend chocolate from Adventure Bay (where Paw Patrols rescue dogs live). I can give you 500 pieces of pretend chocolate!”

3. Be in agreement- “Yes, I would love to give you that chocolate bar as soon as you finish all your dinner.”
4. Make an alternative offer – “You had some chocolate earlier today. Why not have some giant, juicy blueberries?”
5. Request help from Authority figures- “I want what Dr. Jones would say about having chocolate before dinner. Next time we see him let’s ask”
6. Commiserate- “Yes, I want a chocolate bar too! All I want is chocolate before dinner. Who came up with that silly rule anyway!”
7. Just Play- Acknowledge that they want chocolate before dinner but launch into a physical play theme- chase, hug, tickle.
8. Google it- “I don’t think we can have chocolate before dinner, let’s ask Google?”

9. Ponder and Wonder- “Hmmmm, I wonder what Mama Pig and Papa Pig would say if Peppa Pig wanted to have chocolate before her dinner?”

10. Play the Grandma or favorite Aunt/Uncle card- “Oh, I am so sorry. I can’t give you chocolate before dinner. You will have to ask your Uncle Tony. Only Uncle Tony can give you chocolate before dinner. We can ask him the next time we see him for all the chocolate that you want?”

There are other many other ways to handle such situations. Patience and kindness goes a long way.