A parent contacted me, inquiring how she could tell her child “no” but still remain positive. As she explained, “I find that I am telling my youngster ‘no’ so often that it disturbs me. I want to be positive, but ‘no’ sounds so negative. What should I do?”
I proceeded to tell her a short story: A few years ago my wife and I were to attend a formal event dedicated to the memory of the gifted Scottish poet and song writer Robbie Burns, who gave us such world classics as “Auld Lange Syne” and “My Love Is Like A Red, Red Rose.”
I planned to wear formal Scottish attire—a “Montrose” jacket and kilt. My wife inquired if she should wear a certain dress that she had selected. I asked myself, ”How do I delicately tell Evelyn to make a different selection?”
I simply replied, “Not for this occasion.”
Consider using the same opening words when your youngster starts to do something for which you do not wish to give approval. It may sound like, “Not right now,” “Not until I have time to think about that,” “Not against the wall; can you make a better choice?” etc.
“Not” simply doesn’t carry the same negative overtone of finality that “No” connotes.
Give it a try and leave your feedback in the comments section below regarding how it worked, how you felt after saying it, and most important, how the child responded.