The Power of a Well-Placed No

As attached parents, we often act as if we are afraid to say the word, “No.” We become good at structuring our homes so we don’t have to say “no” all the time to our babies and toddlers.  This is a good thing.   For the preschooler, we become masters of using fantasy and movement to re-direct a child.  We use distraction. We pull out every tool in our toolbox….

But sometimes a child needs to hear a well-placed “no”.

As adults, we know that life often hands us a “no” that is not couched in any other terms. We are  living in a society where parents are scooping in to rescue older children who have been dealt “no’s” through consequences.  Parents who are trying to have the school pass a child who needs to fail.  Parents who are so emotionally invested in their children that they need to detach a bit and let a “no” settle on their child, even if it means their child is not going to pass a grade, not make the team, not gain admittance to that college program. 

What are your non-negotiable “no’s” and why do you feel badly saying this word?  “No” is not a bad word!

Yes, we try to offer what a child can do along with the no. Yes, we try to leave the heart and spirit of the child open and not crush them with this powerful word.   But I strongly feel that not every “no” needs to be followed by this.  Sometimes just “no” is truly enough.

If you are a loving parent, please accept that “no” can sometimes be the most loving thing that you can say, and that we are doing a disservice to our children if they do not hear a few well-placed, loving  “no’s” from an early age.

Many blessings today,


4 thoughts on “The Power of a Well-Placed No

  1. Since our son is just a year old, our “non-negotiable ‘no’s'” have to do with safety & transitions he doesn’t like. He still hates diaper time (most of the time) & makes a worse mess of things, no matter how calming an influence I try to be, so it becomes a series of “no’s” to get him to stop & “resume the position”. When it comes to safety, he’s getting it. It might take a few times, but he understands not to do what he’s doing. (We just can’t seem to get to child-proofing everything fast enough.)

    But this post actualy made me think more about the grandparents (& other family members) who we have been telling “NO!” to regarding toys, clothes, random things that keep showing up at our house.

    1) Our son doesn’t need 5 pairs of sandals, more clothes for summer (he’s a diaper-only-baby much of the time), more blocks, sorting toys, rattles, etc.

    2) My MIL just retired & my FIL is unemployed, so they can’t afford to buy random things, even from tag sales or Salvation Army- especially random things WE DON’T NEED!

    3) We just don’t need half of the things given to us- cabinet locks that won’t work on our cabinets, a spice rack we don’t have somewhere to install, a beaded tablecloth (beads + baby = trouble), metal door hanger that doesn’t fit, etc. And to accept even one item is like giving permission for more.

    So I find it becoming a poor example for setting boundaries that adults won’t keep, if we expect our son to accept the boundaries we set for him. Hmmmmm…… 🙂

    Dandelion wishes,


  2. Pingback: Celebrating Children Who Say “No!” « The Parenting Passageway

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