Finding new ways to say "no" to your child -

Finding new ways to say "no" to your child

Raising kids definitely raises questions for many parents. One of the big ones is how to effectively communicate with your child. Leading psychologist Dr. Mark Brenner says that the first thing you need to do is stop saying, "No."

Dr. Mark Brenner is a family psychologist and author of When No Gets You Nowhere: Teaching Your Toddler and Child Self-Control.

"Research shows that kids hear the word between 200 and 250 times a day," says Dr. Brenner. "Parents, extended family, grandparents ... Everyone saying, 'No!' And 'no' never gets compliance and it doesn't teach thinking. It teaches retaliation."

So what, then, is the answer?

"What children want is the answer why they can't do what they want to do," Dr. Brenner explains. "For example, let's say your child says, 'Daddy, come over here now. Let me show you something that I'm doing.' He's working with Legos. He's drawing. This is a young child. And you say, 'Jacob, I wish I could, but I have to finish a phone call.' 'Daddy, do it now! Do it now!' 'Jacob, I wish I could but I have to finish a phone call.' He asks you another four or five times, but you never say the word 'No.' What you do is you tell him why you can't do it and he figures out, 'My dad's not going to do it.' You teach the thinking because thinking is not automatic. Once you say no, you cut the process of communication."

Angie Roberts takes a "just don't say no" approach with her 20-month old son, Jack.

"I really believe in that, because I always hated it when my parents would say no and then I'd say 'Why?' And they'd say, 'Because I said so' and that would really make me mad," Roberts says. "So I try to. I mean, obviously I can't always, but I try to explain it to him."

Dr. Brenner says when talking with children, tone is key.  Parents should remain calm even when their kids are not.

"They're looking at the parent and they're seeing, 'Is my mother getting upset? Can I win her through pushing her or being obnoxious or going into a temper tantrum?' They're not consciously, but subconsciously, this is what drives behavior. I always tell parents that if you change the parent's reaction, you change the child's behavior," says Dr. Brenner.

Dr. Brenner says that saying the word no frequently to infants can, over time, diminish their enthusiasm and curiosity about the world around them.

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