Alternative Ways of Saying “No” to Your Kids

Saying “no” to your kids is probably one of the hardest tasks you have as a parent. It is a powerful word that can quickly get kids disheartened or sad. Yet, there are instances that you need to drop the word, especially that kids are still learning about the world and need guidance in making sensible decisions. Of course, you don’t want them doing things that can result in bad outcomes or put them in peril. Luckily, you don’t avoid getting them disheartened when you deny their requests or halt them from doing any activity. Check below some of the alternative ways on how to say “no” to your kids!

Dad, Kid


One of the main reasons why children take a “no” against their parents is that they aren’t fully aware why you came up with a decision. Remember, it’s your responsibility to let your kids know what’s the rationale behind it and give valid points in a way that they can quickly understand. Try to point out that you’re not doing it simply because you don’t want them to but because it’s for their welfare. By doing so, you increase the chances of letting them accept your decision and instead look for other ways how they can cope up with the situation.

Mask “No” as a “Yes”

Hearing too much “nos” from a parent can be psychologically damaging a child. With that, try to mask your “no” as a “yes.” For instance, your kid is requesting a candy bar late afternoon, but you don’t like them to get satiated before dinner. You can say, “Yes, you can eat your candy after dinner.” If your child is requesting some screen time, you can reply, “Yes, after you’ve finished your homework.” Through that, you lessen the “nos” but also teach your kids how to wait and compromise.

Avoid Giving False Expectations

A common mistake most parents make is replacing a “no” with a “not now,” when they don’t have any plans of accepting their kid’s request or aren’t sure when they can actually fulfill it. For example, you’re in the middle of a Zoom business meeting but your child is bugging you to check on his drawing. You can easily say, “not now, but I’d love to see that after this call.” Providing a specific timeframe instead will appease your child and allow him to look forward to when his request can finally be granted.

Provide Alternatives and Empower Your Child

Are your children asking for too many cookies in a day? You can say no to their request but informing them about the importance of a healthy diet and inserting other possible options. You can even empower them by letting them decide. For instance, ask for any piece of fruit they might love to eat. If they don’t have anything in mind, go ahead and suggest what you think is best for them. Acknowledge their choice and cite the advantage of their decision. If they chose orange over apples, you can say that it’s an excellent pick as the fruit is rich in vitamin C. Not only do you provide them a sense of control by allowing them to make their own decision, but you also make them feel valued and happy about their choices.

Use positive words

Be creative and use the power of language to come up with positive words rather than throwing in a straight “no.” If your boys love to act like Jedis and love to play fight with their swords in the living, you can rephrase “no” by saying “See who wins in the backyard!” If your little daughter loves to bring your family cat into their bedroom, you can try telling her that your cat is much happier downstairs rather than saying “No cats in the bedroom!”

Avoid being in situations where you have to say “no”

You can actually prevent getting in a situation when you have to say “no” to your kids. No more problems, right? If someone in the family gets sick, try to tell your kids in advance that children are not allowed in hospitals to protect them from catching diseases. That way, you won’t see them having tantrums after leaving them at home when you visit your relative. Are children too active and love to roam around? Bring them to fenced parks when they can be free to explore and without you having to say “no” just to avoid them wandering too far away or getting lost. By doing things in advance, you save yourself from needing to say “no.”


Those are some alternative ways to say “no” to kids. However, remember that “no” is not a taboo word and you’re free to use it, especially in times when you’re little ones are in immediate danger or at risk of hurting others. Of course, make sure to also strike a balance with the number “no” and “yes” you give to your child. Deny ample requests to let them know their boundaries and limits, but also grant demands to keep them happy and uplift their spirit. Happy parenting!