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Parents – Why Do You Say No?

No, no, no, and no.  That might be the most common word to come out of a parent’s mouth according to kids.  Parents have a lot of reasons for saying no.  How many of the following examples do you use with your kids?

Parents Are Frustrated With Their Kids Behaviors

Screaming, running through the house, fighting, whining – whatever it is, parents don’t usually like any of it.  When parents get fed up to their ears with kid behavior nonsense, “no” gets heard an awful lot.  This is a pretty reasonable response in most cases, and usually leads to some type of discipline crackdown.  Ideally, things are set up so that saying “no” is part of the discipline plan, not just a hasty reaction.

If mom or dad keep their emotions in check, then the kids can feel the discomfort of being called out.  Tension is released when they show better obedience and the parents acknowledge it by saying “yes” again.

Parents Are In A Bad Mood About Something Else

Kids can get stuck in the middle of mom or dad’s bad mood at times.  Unfortunately, they might get told “no” just because.  Parents have to be careful how they handle this one, especially if the bad mood is about something chronic that needs to be addressed.

Kids may start to act out if they think their normal requests are being rejected for no obvious reason.  Plus, they may start absorbing the tension and irritability from the parent.  It happens now and then to every parent – you just don’t want it to become a habit.

Parents Aren’t Ready To Deal With Their Kid’s Request:

Sometimes parents just say no to turn off an issue they aren’t sure they want to deal with right then.  They may believe their kid could be left home alone a little while, or start driving practice, or handle themselves on a group date.  But the parents say “no” to put it off just a little longer.  When given the choice, they’d like to not put their kid in an unfamiliar or more mature situation.  This is not necessarily a bad reason to say no  – parents just want their kids to succeed and grow.  It just illustrates how conflicting good parenting can be.  You want to see them fly, you hate to see them fall too hard.

Parents Know What They Want And Don’t Want For Their Kids:

Much of the time, parents say “no” when they are confident about what they want for their kids.  Denying permission to go to a questionable party, not allowing them to play somewhere that seems unsafe or has no adult supervision, turning down a request to watch TV on a nice summer day – these are all great reasons to say “no.”  Some parents feel guilty about doing anything that makes their child upset.  That’s a dangerous situation because kids sometimes have really wild/creative ideas and spotty judgment at times.  They need you to say “no” to teach them how to protect themselves.  When parents are confident about this, the word “no” comes more easily.

Readers – tell me why you say “no” to your kids.  Do you have other reasons than the ones listed above?  When is it hardest and easiest for you to say “no”?

Creative Commons License photo credit: TenSafeFrogs

Parents – Why Do You Say No?

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP is a practicing licensed mental health counselor in Nebraska.

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APA Reference
Krull, E. (2010). Parents – Why Do You Say No?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 27, 2020, from


Last updated: 29 Jun 2010
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