Can Telling a Child ‘No’ Actually Be Detrimental?

A generally accepted rule among parents is that it’s often necessary to say no to a child. Saying no is a tool parents use to help their kids learn about the world they live in. And yet, there is one scenario in which telling a child no could actually be detrimental.

That scenario involves corrective behavior. In other words, parents do their best to correct inappropriate behavior among their children. But how they go about administering correction makes an enormous difference. Standing on the other side of the room and screaming ‘no’ is not the best way to do it. And if it is done too often, it could have a detrimental effect on how a child sees the world.

Good Reasons for Saying No

Before getting to corrective behavior, it is probably helpful to look at good reasons for saying no. Below are a number of them, compliments of the staff at Relationships & More in Westchester County, NY. Relationships & More offers adolescent counseling as well as individual and couple’s counseling.

Here are their reasons for saying no to a child:

  • Teaching the difference between wants and needs
  • Teaching a child to do things for themself rather than always relying on mom or dad
  • Helping a child learn the very necessary practice of self-control
  • Preventing inappropriate behaviors from harming others
  • Helping a child understand that things do not always happen as planned
  • Helping a child understand that the needs of others are sometimes more important
  • Teaching the difference between right and wrong.

Both the word itself and the intent behind ‘no’ are necessary for shaping a child’s perspective of the world. If everything is always ‘yes’, a child grows up with a false impression of reality. That could lead to significant problems later.

When Saying No Can Be Detrimental

Despite the fact that saying no to a child is often for their own good, parents can use the word in a way that ends up being detrimental. You got a hint earlier when you read about a parent screaming ‘no’ at a child across the room.

When it comes to correcting bad behavior, the path of least resistance is to simply say ‘no!’. A parent utters that one word and leaves it at that. If the child doesn’t respond, the word is spoken again but with greater urgency. The continued failure to respond can lead the parent to shouting at the child.

Correcting a child with a single word ‘no’ can actually teach a child to be defiant. Have you ever witnessed a young child defiantly screaming ‘no’ at a parent trying to get them to do something? The word itself is just a word. The defiance behind it was probably learned from mom and dad and their go-to way of administering correction: shouting ‘no’ from across the room.

Choose Another Path

Fortunately, this type of scenario can be avoided by choosing another path of correction. Rather than simply saying ‘no’, parents can use full sentences like, “Stop what you’re doing. You are not allowed to do it.” Full sentences require thought. They help to remove the emotion from the moment. And when it comes time to resist, children will not bother using complete sentences. They are less likely to reply in defiance.

Saying no is generally a good thing when it comes to being a parent. But if you use the word as your main tool for correcting bad behavior, you could be teaching your child defiance. Consider that next time you feel like screaming ‘no’ from across the room.

Comments are closed.