3 reasons why you should drop the word ‘No’

Stephanie Wicker

Stephanie Wicker

Child behaviour expert, parenting educator, counsellor and speaker. Stephanie Wicker has successfully guided families through early childhood for over over 15 years.
Updated on Jun 14, 2024 · 2 mins read
3 reasons why you should drop the word ‘No’

While boundaries and rules are important, it is also important to be mindful of the words we use and to teach these skills to our children as well. So what’s wrong with the word No?

It quickly becomes our ‘fall back’ answer

The word No easily becomes a fall back when we simply can’t be bothered. So next time you want to say ‘no’, be mindful of your answer. Are you saying no because that is the appropriate response, or is it because you simply don’t have the energy.

The brain is wired to resist the word ‘No’ 

It’s important to understand what the word no does in our brains. When we hear the word ‘no’, the mid-brain recognises it as a stressor. A stressor basically interrupts the expectation of the brain i.e if you’re heading to work and get stuck in an unexpected traffic jam, you start to worry about being late.

Your expectation of being on time for work was interrupted, so now you’re stressed. That stressor in your brain sends a signal to the fight-or-flight area of your brain and tells it to resist whatever is going on. Resisting the word ‘no’ is not intentional. When your child gets angry after hearing ‘no’, they’re not actually being intentionally naughty. They’re simply behaving in exactly the way their brain is supposed to.

The word ‘no’ evokes immediate disconnection 

This doesn’t just happen with children – we do this as adults too! When someone says ‘No’, we feel an immediate disconnection from them. So like adults, when children feel disconnected from someone, they will less likely be obedient when we ask them to do something.

Of course, it would be nearly impossible to completely rid your life of the word no – you do have to say it sometimes! So don’t worry yourself by avoiding it altogether, simply monitoring your language is just as effective. Be mindful of your responses to your children, adjust your tone of voice and language to avoid unnecessary stressors, and watch as your child is much more agreeable than ever before.

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