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By: Tammy Sassoon, M.s.ed

Dear Tired and Confused,

It is indeed difficult to function when you are afraid of what might happen if you say “no”to your child, but you are not alone, and there is a solution. If you have read any of my previous responses, you already know how important I believe it is to make sure that our value system is straight. We need to always examine the American value system, which we are so affected by, and ask ourselves if this is what we want for our children. In doing that, you will come to realize that many people have this warped way of thinking that part of being a good parent is going to any length to make sure that our children never experience any discomfort. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

While it is our responsibility to go out of our way to meet our children’s physical and emotional needs, this does not mean that we should feel bad for them when we say “no.” In fact, we teach children from very early on that PRECISELY BECAUSE you love them, you will be saying “no” to them.

Of course, we never teach them anything while they are in the midst of a tantrum or being upset. (We don’t teach people how to swim while they are drowning.) When your child is perfectly calm and in a great mood, you can tell him (not as a lecture, but rather with a smile) that people who grow up to think that it’s bad if they do not get everything they want never know how to be happy. We all know people who fall apart as soon as something doesn’t work out the way they wished it would have. Tell your child that we don’t want to be that kind of person.

Then, when you say “no” to your child, lower your voice and show absolute confidence. You might want to remind your child about your discussion and say, “Remember, because I love you I will be saying ’no’ sometimes. This is one of those times, and I am not changing my mind….” And then, of course, stick to your word. If kids see that even once every 20times you do not stick to your word, it becomes worth it for them to keep on trying to argue because this may be the time that you give in.

Let your child know in advance that you will be coming across extremely confident about saying “no”, and that it might take him a few days to get used to, but deep down he will feel that it’s good for him. After a few days, it will be much easier for him to accept, and then hopefully the entire dynamic at home will be renewed.


Dear Tammy,

What shall I do? I have such a hard time saying no to my eight-year-old son because he literally argues every time I say, "no." He either kicks and screams, cries, or just keeps begging. Once in a while I give in to him but generally speaking I really don't. Can you please guide me?


Tired and Confused

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