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What to Do When ‘No’ Stops Working with Your Child

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Dr. Meg Meeker

Whether you’re a parent of a toddler, pre-teen or adolescent, you are saying this one word more than any other. But what do you do when “no” stops working? When you’ve said it for the umpteenth time and your child is still doing the thing you told him not to do or still asking for the candy you told her she couldn’t have?

Too often, parents give up when “no” stops working and when they do, their child gets this message: I can get and do what I want once mom and dad are tired enough.

I understand this. Trust me, I had four children of my own and am now a grandparent telling my granddaughter “no” all the time. But I have learned over the years that when “no” stops working, I can turn to other discipline strategies I’ve gathered in my toolbox.

I’ve shared all of these strategies in my webinar What to do when NO stops working:

5 surefire secrets to make your words more meaningful so your kids will listen the first time without fighting, screaming, or throwing a tantrum.You can register to watch it here.

One thing I stress in this webinar is that your words matter to your kids, and you can use your words to talk up to your kids or talk down to them. What I mean by that is you can treat your child as though she is already the child you want her to be, not the child that she is.

For example, I had a teenage patient once who was in a lot of trouble. She would skip school and disobey her parents regularly. After her parents started grounding her, her behavior totally turned around. She was improving greatly, but her mom still spoke to her as if she was going to skip school any day. And guess what happened? She started skipping school again.

What if her mom had treated her differently—applauded her change and spoke to her as though she expected her daughter to continue making good decisions?

Kids rise and fall according to our expectations of their behavior.

If your child has stopped responding to “no,” start treating him like the child you want him to be. See if he rises to meet that bar. The results may surprise you.

If you want to learn about my other four strategies for what to do when “no” stops working with your child, sign up for my webinar here. You may be at your wit’s end with your child, but trust me, there is hope. Your child can and will start responding to your “no” again; you just have to approach the word in a different way.

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