Q&A | What about a kid who won’t take “no” for an answer?

Do you have a kid who struggles to take “no” for an answer? That’s the question we are covering today. The truth is, somtimes we need to firm up our “no” when talking to our kids–I’m giving you a few examples of what this sounds like. I’m also giving you an example of how I use my job description.

“As your Mom, it’s my job to help keep your brain and body healthy. To do that, I have to be sure you eat good food and get plenty of movement”

Time Stamps:

  • 1:01 Something Simple I’m Loving: Coop Eden Pillows
  • 2:53 Other things for the bed: Saatva Mattress (We have the classic, Luxury-Firm)
  • 4:05 Today’s sponsor: Simple Contacts
  • 5:05 Leave your questions here!
  • 5:29 Today’s Question: What about a kid who won’t take “no” for an answer?

Hi, there it's episode 190. And today I am answering the question. How do you handle a kid who won't take no for an answer? Hi, this is Denaye. I'm the founder of Simple Families. Simple Families is an online community for parents who are seeking a simpler more intentional life. In this show, we focus on minimalism with kids, positive parenting, family wellness, and decreasing the mental load. My perspectives are based in my firsthand experience, raising kids, but also rooted in my Ph.D. In child development. So you're going to hear conversations that are based in research, but more importantly, real life. Thanks for joining us.

Hi there and welcome to Simple Families. This is our weekly Q and A episode. If you're new to the show in this episode, I start by sharing something simple that I'm loving. And then I respond to a question from an audience member.

So let's kick this off with something simple that I'm loving this week. Now I want to remind you that the segment is never sponsored. It's just stuff that I'm authentically loving this Christmas. My husband and I gifted each other sort of a joint gift of new pillows. We have been pretty much despising our pillows since we got them two and a half years ago, when we moved into our new house and had to get a new bed, we went from a queen to a King size bed. And with that, we had to get new, bigger pillows and pillows are expensive. We ended up saving money and buying pillows that we didn't love. And we've just been dealing with it ever since. And finally, my husband decided to do the research and found our current pillows, which we got on Christmas Eve. And I have to say that I absolutely look forward to going to bed every single night.

So if you're looking for new pillows and you want to save the research, trust me, these ones are really great. They're made by a company called coop home goods that C O O P or maybe it's co-op. Now that I'm saying it out loud, either way, you get my point. So coop/co-op a home goods. And the pillow that we got is the Eden pillow. It's pretty supportive. I don't know that I would call it overly firm, but it's a supportive and it comes with a bag where you can add extra oomph as they call it. So if you like get even more for them, you can add more in. And like I said, on a recent podcast, I really love sleep, but now I love it even more that I have a comfortable pillow that is actually supportive of my head and neck.

This is also something that I would consider giving as a gift. Like if I had to give a gift to my parents or to my in-laws, because I think that most people don't invest in good pillows. I know that it was something that I was hesitant to spend money on. So if you're in the market for pillows, I can definitely recommend the coop home goods, Eden pillow. And I'll put the link to that in the show notes. And while we're on the topic of beds and sleeping and comfort, just a few other things for the bed that I love. We have a Saatva mattress, which is one of the mail order mattress companies that does spring mattresses. It's S A A T V A, it's an organic mattress company. We've had it for two and a half years since we moved into our house. And we really, really like it in the interest of full transparency.

We also bought a lot of stuff for a bedroom from West Elm when we moved and we haven't liked any of it. I don't like giving negative feedback, but I do feel like I need to be honest. We got a duvet and our former pillows, our bed, our dresser, my office furniture. And we really haven't been happy with any of it. So, you know, to each his own, I'm not going to be going back there shopping anymore, but I know some people love it. As we move further into minimalism, I'm trying to be much more intentional about buying things that are really going to last things that we're really going to love. And a lot of this furniture we thought was really going to last and it just hasn't. But I think that's part of the process. We're going to learn from our mistakes. We're going to find our favorite things and we're going to buy things.

We think we're going to keep forever, and we're not. We're allowed to make mistakes. We're allowed to change our minds, whether it's on furniture or clothing or parenting styles, you name it. The sponsor for today's episode is simple context. Simple context is one of my favorite life hacks that I've been introduced to since hosting this podcast. It's this simple, fast, easy to use app where you can actually take the vision exam, right from your own home and renew your contact prescription. If you're anything like me, you have a hard time getting out to do appointments like this. So being able to do it from home is really great. I also love that it saves me money because when you use the in-app vision test, it's only $20. Try it for yourself and save $20 on your lenses. By going to simplecontacts.com/simple 20, or entering the code "simple 20" at checkout.

I want to mention that this isn't a replacement for your periodic full eye health exam, but it is the most convenient way to reorder your contacts and renew a prescription. If your vision hasn't changed again, get $20 off at simplecontacts.com/simple20, or just enter the code "simple 20" at checkout. Moving into today's question. If you have a question that you want to leave for a Q and A episode, go to simple families.com forward slash question. That's the best place to leave your questions for me. Sometimes I get questions on Instagram. Sometimes I get them via email and they get lost in the shuffle. So if you want to submit a question, go to simple families.com/question. And this question today comes from Emily in Beaverton, Oregon. Emily's question is about her four-year-old son. She wrote my oldest son has a hard time accepting when we say no, I know he's testing boundaries.

And he wants what he wants. No matter what we say or we do, it takes him a long time to drop it. Here's an example. He wants to have a treat. And I've said no, multiple times he will keep asking over the course of hours. And my answer never changes. Many times. He says, it's hard to wait. I say, you can do hard things, but he doesn't drop it. What can I say to let him know that I'm serious? And it's time to move on. This is mostly for my sanity, but also to teach him that. No means no, this is a great question, Emily. So if I'm being perfectly honest, I hear a little bit of ambivalence in your question. So you said I've told him no and he won't drop it. And then he says he has a hard time waiting. And I tell him that he can do hard things.

He can wait, even though it's hard. So it sounds like you're saying no, but you're also maybe telling him later. And that's two different things either. You're saying, no, you can't have a treat or you're saying, no, you can't have a treat right now. You can have a tree in a little while or no, you can't have a treat. Now you can have a treat later. Some kids have a really easy time waiting and some kids don't. My six-year-old has a terrible time waiting. He's just like this. If I tell him maybe later, or you have to wait, it's painful for everyone involved. So I don't, when I say no, I say no. And I call this a hard, no, it's a hard, no, because it's not wavering. It is a no rooted in deep conviction. There are lots of different ways that we can say, no, let's start with the malleable no.

The no that can be shaped and formed and changed into a maybe, and then pushed a little further molded a little bit more can be changed into a yes. And then there's the insecure. No, the, no that you're not even sure if it means no, the no where you're second guessing yourself. Should I say no to this tree? He hasn't had a treat in a couple of days. Maybe I should give it to him, even though no. Maybe the word coming out of your mouth, this stream of consciousness running through your mind doesn't necessarily match up with what's coming out of your mouth. And lastly, there's the hard, no, the hard, no is the answers. No, no means no. I am confident that this is the best decision for you and for our family. Back in episode 186, I talked a little bit about calm confidence.

And when you respond, no with calm confidence, your kids can hear it. The fact of the matter is they can also hear the insecure. No, and they can hear the malleable no, just like they can hear the hard, no, they're basically genius, little nonverbal language slash mind readers. They often know you better than, you know yourself. The words coming out of your mouth are just a very small part of the communication that you're having with your child. So let's do a practice round with these. The first one is the malleable know, Hey mom, can I have a treat no, please, please, please. Can I have a treat? No stop asking, please. Please. Can I have a treat? Fine. Take it. And then there's the insecure. No, mom, can I have a treat? No mom, can I have treat please?

No. And then there's the hard, no mom, can I have a treat? No. Okay. My question now is, do you struggle with the hard? No. Was that mean when I said that, did that feel mean? I know a lot of parents have a really hard time feeling like they are quote unquote mean, but affirm no is not mean affirm. No gives our kids boundaries. It helps them understand quickly that no is no. Here's another example in my house. It's often, Hey, can we watch TV? No. Now, usually I have a phrase that I attached to the, no, it's just not straight. No. Usually what I'll say to these type of requests is no, it's my job as your mom to make sure that your brain and your body are healthy and to do that, I have to make sure they eat healthy food and that you keep your body moving.

And that pretty much blanket covers all the requests for junk food and television there's truth in that. And actually, so I call that my job description. I'm telling my kids what my job is as the parent, that absolutely is my job description. It's totally true saying that allowed not only makes my kids believe that my job description kind of comes from this higher source. That's not just me saying no. That is actually my job to say, no, I don't have a choice, but it helps me to reaffirm. And it helps me to feel more secure in my decisions. When I say my job description out loud, I'm like, yes, this is it. This is my job. This is what I got to do. So it helps me to avoid that malleable no too. Now occasionally the hard no doesn't work and that is rare in my house.

I will tell you that the hard no is effective probably 95% of the time. But if I am getting repeat upon repeat requests for the same thing, if I'm getting nagged repeatedly for an whole afternoon or hours, whatever it is, I consider that to be disruptive. It's absolutely disruptive to my sanity and to my wellbeing. And our rule is that if you're going to be in our house, you have to be respectful to the people at it. And constant nagging and repeated asking when I've told you to stop is disrespectful. So then I go to this, all this asking is making me feel a little crazy. You have a choice. You can stop asking me for snacks because you're not getting them. Or you can go to your room and relax and chill out and spend some quiet time there. But continuing to run around the house and demand snacks is not okay.

No means no. So that's what I say. And maybe it sounds a little harsh, but it's, to me really just putting in place a boundary, I've laid out the expectation. I've given some choices and that's that. Now of course, this is a last resort and I don't often have to get to this point, but sometimes there are last resort. All the buttons are pushed to kind of days. Right?

All right. So I hope this has been helpful. I would encourage you to try out your hard. No I'm telling you it takes some practice. You might even want to use your phone and just record yourself a couple of times and hear yourself saying no out loud. And I also think it would be really awesome. If some of you would practice your heart nose and post them to your Instagram stories and I'll reshare them. So we can all hear each other, practicing our heart knows that I think it will help build up each other's confidence that it's okay to be firm. And it's okay to give a hard no when necessary. Our kids might not love it, but they're not going to be traumatized. And the truth is that they often need firm boundaries. And as parents it's important that we recognize our own limits before we get pushed to them. I hope that was helpful. And thank you for tuning in today. I'll talk with you next time.

Denaye Barahona

Denaye Barahona is a loving wife and mama of two. She's a therapist for moms, an author, and the host of the top-ranked Simple Families Podcast. Denaye holds a Ph.D. in Child Development and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She has been featured on the likes of The Today Show, Netflix, The Wall Street Journal, Real Simple, Forbes, and numerous other media outlets.