Written September 24th, 2013

Discouraging the "No" Monster

We all have a lot of reasons to say “no” in our lives. Parents and children. In love, we set rules and boundaries for our kids and teach them over time to make the best decisions possible. Of course, we have plenty of valid reasons to say “no” to things, keeping our children out of harm’s way or keeping them from doing harm to others. As good as our intentions are, eventually a “no” monster can be created. Sometimes, the parents become the “no” monster, and sometimes our children become the “no” monster. If a child hears the word enough times, eventually everything is “no, no, no” no matter how good your intentions are. Frankly, it’s rather annoying on both accounts.

In my attempts to educate my son and discourage the “no” monster, I have come up with a list of five words that can be used instead of “no” to teach him right from wrong or good from bad. Of course, all of these words are used in the same sharp tone as I would use when I say the word “no.” Here is the list:

  • Yucky
  • Dirty
  • Hot
  • Danger
  • Fragile

With a toddler at home, I have found that these words keep me from using the word “no” repeatedly. Not that I never use the word–sometimes it just slips out. I believe this is going to help discourage my son from becoming a little “no” monster and also increase his vocabulary. I like teaching him the many different reasons I might say “no.” As a Jewish mother, nothing pleases me more than knowing I am doing something to make my child a little bit smarter and a little bit more understanding of his universe.

So the next time you find yourself saying “no” to this, and “no” to that, think about which of the words above you might be able to substitute for the word “no.” If your child becomes a “no” monster because they picked it up at daycare or school, there’s not a ton you can do about it, except do your best to dampen it at home.

Nobody wants to live with a “no” monster. Parents and children alike.


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