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All I seem to say is “No” – Why it leads to negative feelings



Do you, like me, sometimes feel all you say is NO?

There are some days when I feel I have said no all day long.

‘No you can’t do that’

‘No you can’t have that’

‘Don’t do that’

‘Leave your brother alone’

‘Leave your sister alone’


It can leave me feeling negative …. how it must make our children feel?… mine have been known to say

‘You always say no!’ and ‘if Mum says maybe it means NO’.

Alternatives to saying “No”

I thought it would be great to have some alternatives.  Remember toddlers don’t understand time. You are either doing something now or not at all so saying in five minutes really still means no. But, we can put this into a language that is easier to understand.

How about:

  • We can watch TV after lunch.
  • If your child wants to take part in a big for a big project or day out you can say that it’s a great idea but suggest you do it at the weekend and write it on the calendar so you don’t forget.
  • Suggest an alternative; hand out some paper to draw on, rather than the wall or a siblings’ picture
  • Help to choose a book when they are trying to snatch the one someone else is looking at.
  • Instead of reinforcing the negatives such as “don’t hit your sister” “play nicely with your sister” or if they are bored, make a suggestion of what to play. “How about we play with the garage and fill the cars up with petrol.”
  • There are times when we do have to say NO and if we don’t use it all the time that helps ensure when we do have to say NO or STOP in a time of danger our children will respond.
  • A great tactic for distraction; if you can’t do something ask your child what it would be like if they could. For example if you could have an ice cream what flavour would you have? Would you have sprinkles? What colour would the sprinkles be? You can make it into a game.

What can we do?

And a final thought perhaps we as adults should challenge ourselves to say yes to a few more things and open ourselves to some new experiences so we are not always saying no to ourselves.


Do you find yourself saying “no” a lot?  How do you counteract it?



Beckie is a mum to three kids, and works in the Cambridge area as a coach. Feel free to get in contact for a no obligation discussion.

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