How to deal with a child who will not take “No” for an answer


As parents we’ve all been there; you’re at the store, your child sees a toy or maybe it’s a candy that they want, and whatever your reasoning is you say “No”. Whelp, now your child is screaming, stomping their feet, and saying how you are the worst and that they hate you; then on top of that, there are now people looking at you. Now, this is also a reminder to pick your battles. Is denying your child worth the effort it will take to get them to calm down? That all depends on you, and what you are comfortable with; if it’s a $2 candy, you could say that they can get it, but they can only eat it after they have had dinner. If it’s a $20 toy and you know your budget will not allow you to purchase any extras then you may want to use some of these tips.


Once your child has inevitably gone into full nuclear meltdown (I’m exaggerating, but not really), it is important that you try to calm them down (see tips for coping skills blog post). When our children or anyone for that matter is upset, they have limited ability to comprehend what is going on around them. They may not respond to anything that you are saying to them, so once they are calmer then you can begin to help them understand; even if that means that sometimes, you remove the child from area.


Be empathetic to your child, let them know that you understand that they want the [item] and how frustrating it can be when you can’t have something that you want. Be there for your child, help them feel their emotions and let them know that it is okay to feel the way that they are feeling. However, how they expressed their emotions was inappropriate


 Providing your child a choice may also be an option. If they want a candy bar, you can give them an option between two healthy (or healthier) alternatives. Choices also provide your child with a sense of control over the things in their life.


It is also important to remain calm, and not to engage in a tug ‘o war with your child. If you are able to and your child can remain safe, then don’t get involved with any further attempts to persuade you or if they continue to engage in tantrum-like behaviors. This only encourages the behaviors.


Remain firm with your decision; make sure that they know that they don’t have to like it, but that the decision has been made


Remember this is a marathon, not a race. But we’re all human and our stress levels can vary day to day; ideally we as parents would remain steadfast every time our children wanted something that they could not (should not) have, though realistically that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes kids know just when we are vulnerable, busy, overwhelmed, stressed to ask for something that they want and we give in because it’s the easiest option. Do not feel judged, or discouraged; we are all doing the best that we can with what we have. The important part is making sure your children are happy and healthy and your sanity stays intact.