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Before Saying NO to your child…Stop and Think

A blanket NO can be detrimental for a child’s self esteem in the long run. Children who often meet with a NO tend to keep repeating their prohibited activities and behaviour

Before Saying NO to your child…Stop and Think

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  5 Oct 2022 11:51 AM GMT

Two almost insignificant letters: 'NO' could result in tremendous behavioral problems in your child. Although normally one says 'NO' to curb a child's negative behaviour, this 'NO' could have a negative effect on the child. Also although blurting a hurried 'NO' is one of the easiest forms of disciplining and control, it is not always the most effective.

In my capacity as a counselor, I have observed that owing to habit or due to constraints of time or merely as an act of discipline, most parents usually just say "NO". However, invariably most of the times, parents do not explain the reasons for saying "NO". Infact many parents do not feel the necessity to ever explain the reasons behind a NO. It is important to understand that children also have the right/need to be explained the reason why certain things and activities are forbidden.

Children tend to be influenced in their thinking (positive/negative) based on their experiences with the immediate environment, of which, parents form a very significant part. If children meet with a "NO" in every anxiety filled, unconfident step they take, they may develop very negative attitudes towards things in life and at times even towards their parents.

It is important to explain the reasons behind a NO to children for them to process the NO logically and objectively. While dealing with cases of children with behavioral issues, I have noticed that parents usually say 'NO' because they do not want to spoil or pamper their child. Moreover, NO is less time consuming and an uncomplicated mechanism of control (according to parents), especially when they are hard pressed for time and cannot sit and engage in any form of constructive discussion with the child. By constantly saying 'NO' to the child's wishes, a very negative message is being repeatedly given out- We do not trust you to do anything right.

Children in their turn, start believing this message and retaliate by engaging in negative behavior (it is ironic as they are actually living upto their parents expectations-you can't do anything right). Consequently, parents start becoming stricter and more rigid in their parenting style/structure. It becomes somewhat like a vicious circle. Sometimes children also develop problems of low self-esteem, engage in aggressive behaviour and may become clinically depressed in severe cases.

Therefore it is imperative that as parents we try and spend some quality time with our children and explain things to them. It is a gross fallacy that generally children do not understand anything much. Actually they do understand quite a lot if we engage with them in a manner which is comprehensible for them. Short simple sentences like "Chairs are for sitting down" or "Please stand on the floor" instead of the loud NO, don't stand on the chair, NO don't jump etc (that we find ourselves usually reverting to) can actually go a long way in creating a calm, relaxed atmosphere for our children. This in turn shall enable the development of a balanced personality too.

Always remember that a small significant gesture from your side can make a world of difference for your child…


Gariasi Dutta

Psychological Counsellor

Down town hospital


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