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It may surprise you but often your child acts completely different at daycare than they do at home.  

We see all types of behaviour from the different children that have attended the daycare.  The quiet ones, feisty ones, the whiny ones.  They all come with their learned sets of coping skills, or lack of them. We strive to build positive coping skills which is a great benefit to them and to you as parents.

Our daycare establishes rules of behaviour, routines for napping, eating and using the potty.  They are likely not the same routines they have at home.  We often get comments at how much better behaved their child is now and sometimes we hear the opposite, even though their child is cooperative and cheery all day at the daycare.  And often people also say, “I don’t know how you do it.”  Honestly speaking, some kids are more of a challenge than others.  

Sometimes the children have learned to ignore the “no’s” from mom and dad.  They can be master manipulators tugging at the parents heart strings to get what they want.  And when they don’t get what they want – it’s a freak out fest until they do. Most parents give in, and this seemingly is a quick remedy.  But as you probably know this is probably the worst thing you can do.  So this is why you need to learn to say “no” to your child.  By staying firm on boundaries and learning to say no, you establish your authority as a parent which is vital in raising your child to be respectful to you and other authority figures.

The trick is drawing the line at bad behaviour.  Ultimatums work great, it simply has to be what they do not want vs what you want.  In the daycare environment it is a “time out” in the other room until they finish crying.  The peer pressure of having to sit in another room away from the other kids works wonders.  It only has to happen once or twice and then just the mention of it usually works to curb their behaviour when necessary. 

The reason for this article and what is important for parents to realize is that your children can easily be taught to behave better.  We see it every day, the instant change when mom and dad comes to pick them up – this is because they have different limits with mom and dad.

We encourage the parents to ask how their child is doing and to discuss any issues you are having with your child.  We spend all day with your kids, and we have valuable insight on them. So please ask and speak to us about your kids, we are here to help.

From Psychology Today:

Your child knows how to behave badly with you because they know your limits. This behavior usually starts when kids are young. Maybe your daughter acted out in the grocery store when she didn’t get something she wanted. You tried to be firm but finally let her have the coveted candy or toy she was screaming for so she would just be quiet and stop embarrassing you. The bottom line is that we all know what we should do in these situations but let’s face it—it can be really hard. Over time, parents can get stuck in a pattern of giving in even though they want to set firm limits. But it’s never too late to start taking back your authority so you can help your child develop the skills he’ll need to cope when people tell him “no” in the adult world.

Remember: your job is to set the limit, not to control how your child feels about it or reacts to it.

Here are seven situations when you may need to say no to your kids and some suggestions for how to do it.

1) Say no when their actions might hurt someone or break something

Preventing harm is the number one reason to say no. Children may have trouble anticipating bad outcomes, so they need adult guidance to help them make sensible choices. This kind of no helps kids learn to think ahead.

Offering an alternative can redirect kids toward safer activities. Example: “No, you can’t jump on the couch. Someone could get hurt on the sharp table, or the couch might break. If you want to jump around, please go outside.”

2) Say no when they could do it on their own

Sometimes kids ask parents to do things for them that they could do on their own. While there’s nothing wrong with an occasional favor from a parent, children need practice to become competent and to see themselves as contributing in positive ways to the family. This kind of no helps kids learn to be capable. 

Offer training or support, if needed, but encourage your child to own the responsibility. Example: “No, it’s your turn to set the table. Do you remember how to do it? I’ll do one place as an example that you can copy.” 

3) Say no when it’s a want, not a need

We’re constantly bombarded with ads but buying everything that appeals isn’t healthy or wise. While an occasional just-because treat can be fun, you certainly shouldn’t feel obligated to buy everything that strikes your child’s fancy. This kind of no helps children learn to tolerate disappointment and recognize that they can like something without owning it. 

You can acknowledge your child’s wish while not giving in to buying an unneeded item. Example: “No, we’re not going to buy it, but I can see why you like it! It’s very shiny.”

4) Say no when plans change

Life happens. Even when we intend to do something our children want, sometimes circumstances get in the way. This kind of no helps children learn patience and flexibility.

Making a specific new plan can help your child cope with the delay. Example: “No, we can’t do that tonight. I was hoping we could, but then Aunt Margaret came by, and now it’s too close to bedtime. Let’s make a plan to do it tomorrow. Do you want to do it in the morning or the afternoon?”

5) Say no when someone else’s needs (temporarily) matter more

Kids are naturally self-centered, but considering someone else’s needs enables them move past that. This kind of no helps children learn generosity.

Painting a vivid picture of the other person’s feelings makes it easier for kids to embrace kind choices. Example: “No, you can’t go with your friends on Saturday. It sounds fun, but we have Grandma’s birthday party. We love Grandma so we want to make sure she has a good time on her birthday. I know she’s looking forward to spending time with you. She would feel hurt if you didn’t come.” 

6) Say no when you’ll resent doing something 

Resentment is poison in any relationship. It’s usually better not to do something than to do it with bitterness and anger. This kind of no helps children learn about healthy boundaries or compromise.

You may be able to suggest a more do-able alternative to make your no easier for your child to accept. Example: “No, you can’t sign up for travel soccer because I don’t want to spend all day Saturday driving to far-away games. Saturday is our family time. I’d be happy to sign you up for the local team, which is less of a commitment for parents.” 

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7) Say no when it’s against your values 

We teach our children about our values through the choices we make. Sometimes you may feel—and your child may loudly protest—that you’re the only parent making a certain decision, but you need to true to your cherished beliefs. This kind of no teaches children about priorities and integrity.

It may help to explain to your child the rationale behind your (unpopular) choice, but don’t feel like you have to convince your child that you are right. You are, after all, the parent. Example: “No, you can’t get a cell phone. I don’t think they’re appropriate for children your age, and I don’t want it to interfere with your schoolwork or family time.”

9 Tips on Saying “No” to Your Child

From the Child Development Institute

Once is Enough

You must be firm in delivering your first “no”, so there is no need to reiterate. Use a serious facial expression and communicate the reasons why your child is not getting what they want. If the first “no” does not work, try a different approach, such as finding ways to say “yes.”

It is a major mistake to relent. If your child learns that they can harass you into a “yes”, they will manipulate you incessantly.


It is not enough to say “no.” Children do not understand and are likely to repeat misbehavior unless you give an explanation. The most effective way to say “no” is to give valid reasons your child can understand.

“Yes” Can Mean “No”

Children hear “no” too many times, harming their language development and potentially causing resentment. It is entirely possible to say “yes” while meaning “no.” For example, if your child asks for a cookie, you can reply: “Yes, you can have a cookie after dinner.” If they ask for a new toy while shopping, say: “Yes, if this is what you want for Christmas.” In this way, your child has the opportunity to get what they want on a special day and learns to compromise.

Do Not Shout

Child Development Journal writes, “Yelling at your kids can be just as bad as corporal punishment, and it could cause behavior problems and emotional development issues.” The consequences of yelling at children outweigh any possible benefit of temporarily silencing them. The Journal of Marriage and Family found that yelling can cause depression and self-esteem issues. Thus, it is vital to learn to communicate in a calm and friendly manner.

Persistent requests are often a form of boredom. Paying attention to your child by engaging in conversation or playing with them can quickly change the object of their attention and refocus it onto something more positive.

Respect Their Privacy

Do not embarrass your child in front of other people. Get their attention, go to a private place and clearly communicate your reasons for saying “no.” Your child may resent you if you disrespect them in public, especially if other people make fun of them. Remember, if you embarrass your child in public, they will learn to do the same to you!

Say No with an Alternative

Giving alternatives can convince your child that you are not declining their request. For example: “No, darling, you cannot have candy; you can have an apple instead” offers an alternative and opens the door to an explanation about the health benefits of apples over candy.

Do not Give False Hopes

Parents often say: “Not now, darling.” If not now, when? If you fail to fulfill your implied promise, your child may start having trust issues. Give a concrete period that your child can expect to have their wish granted. For example: “Not now, darling. We will buy that for your birthday.”

Let the Child Choose

Choosing empowers children and makes them feel that their opinions are worth something. They will not feel ignored if they get to decide. For example, you can decline a request for candy and ask if there is a piece of fruit that they would like instead, reminding them of your explanation about the health benefits.

When choosing items like breakfast cereal, pick a few viable options and allow your child the final decision rather than allowing them to pick from the whole range. Giving permission to choose anything can result in bad selections you will have to deny, undermining the importance of their opinion.

Do Not Contradict Your Partner

Sometimes one parent will say “no”, only to see the child go to the other parent for a “yes.” This can cause conflict between parents and create a manipulative habit in your child. You and your partner must communicate: it’s easy to ask whether a decision has already been made.

Saying “no” is difficult. You want to make your children happy. It’s a lot easier, at least in the moment, to cave in to their wants. It’s easier to shout. However, given the long-term negative effects, it is imperative that you spend time learning to communicate calmly and effectively.

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