12 Positive Alternatives to Saying “No” to Children

How to say "no" without actually saying the word "no"

Here’s the truth: you need to set limits and say “no” sometimes.

But how you say it makes a difference—both in how your children feel about it and how cooperatively they respond.

There are 4 Types of children, and knowing which one you’re raising plays a huge part in the approach you take when leading and guidinig them.

Here are 12 positive alternatives to saying “No” that are both supportive of your child’s true nature and may communicate what you mean better than before:

Positive ways to say “No” to the Fun-loving Type 1 Child

  • That’s a great idea.

Sometimes, you don’t actually need to say “No” to a Type 1 Child. Try just validating the idea. You may find that’s all this child needs.

  • I’m so glad you want that. It will be fun to see how that shows up for you.

You will never be able to stop your child from wanting things. (That’s okay! You never stop wanting things, do you?) Instead of trying to shut down what they want, validate the desire, even if you don’t choose to be the source that fulfills it this time.

  • Here comes the _____! (tickle monster, fairy princess, bedtime wizard, etc.)

Rather than say “no” about something, say yes to an imaginative experience. For example, “no” about watching more TV can be a “yes” to some extra minutes of fun time with you—which is what your Fun-loving Type 1 Child always wants.

Positive ways to say “No” to the Sensitive Type 2 Child

  • I will answer all your questions in a minute.

Sometimes, a Type 2 Child’s endless questions can lead you to shut them down with a “No.” If you feel interrogated, set a time your child can plan on to ask you all they need.

  • I’m so glad you want that. I’d love to support you in making a plan to get it.

Your child will always want things. (That’s good! Even as adults, we still do.) Instead of saying no to things you feel you can’t afford or provide, validate the desire, even if you’re not the one that makes it happen this time.

  • How are you feeling?

More than most anything else, Sensitive Type 2 children tend to hear “No” because they are whining. Rather than telling your child to stop, consider the possibility that their whining is a cue that your child doesn’t feel heard and doesn’t know how to say it.

Positive ways to say “No” to the Determined Type 3 Child

  • Oh, wow—look at you!

These children often get told “No” for whatever big feat they’ve just done. They’ll be more likely to stop when you need them to if they hear this validating message first.

  • How great that you want that. You can go after it. 

Instead of automatically saying you won’t buy or provide something they want, allow this child the challenge of manifesting it for themselves. These children are endlessly resourceful and entrepreneurial.

  • Okay. But just one rule: ___.

Consider the possibility that sometimes you say “No” to this child more often than you need. You shouldn’t let them run wild or walk you over, but you will both be happier if you give this child (girl OR boy) enough room to adventure and explore. Provide firm guidelines to keep them safe (a physical boundary, a time limit, or one direct rule)—and then let them get their hands dirty.

Positive ways to say “No” to the More Serious Type 4 Child

  • No, because…

These children think deeply and want to know the reasons behind things. For example: “No more cookies because we’re having dinner in 20 minutes and I’d like you to eat it.” The classic response, “Because I said so,” simply doesn’t work for these children.

  • I’m so glad you want that. You’re able to have what you want most.

Instead of trying to keep your child from wanting more, validate the desire. Express confidence that they will be able to identify what’s the highest priority to them.

  • Please tell me why you want to do that.

These children have thought-out reasons for everything they want to do. If you shut them down with a “no” before they feel they’ve had a chance to explain, they may rebel. Ask their reasoning. You may get to have an interesting conversation.

Do you know the Type of child you’re parenting?

Parenting is easier and more intuitive when you know your child’s Energy Type.

If you don’t yet know which Type of energy your child expresses, read my book, The Child Whisperer. As you apply it, your children will be happier, more cooperative, and more successful.


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