Positive Parenting – Say YES! 1

Positive Parenting – Say YES!

10 September 2022 • Words by Elle Walsh 2 mins

Hearing “No” can send our toddlers and young children into the wildest of tantrums. Their brains go into a reactive and defensive state and they immediately go into battle mode. Saying “No” is a natural reaction that every parent has. But what does it actually do? It limits the conversation. It can lead to a power struggle, and if you say it too often your children may stop asking questions and may avoid conversing with you altogether. 


Instead, we can turn that “No” into a “Yes.” Making our responses more positive is a great parenting skill that can save us from many meltdowns. When we offer a positive response, we are creating a teachable moment. We are expressing to our children what expected or appropriate behavior might be in a situation, rather than simply conveying that what they are doing or asking is not acceptable or possible. Giving our children positive messages invites collaboration and cooperation.


For example, if your child desperately wants to go to Grandma’s house, you could say, “I know you love going to Grandma’s house, but she is out right now. We will make sure to give her a call later to see when she is free for us to visit.” Here you are acknowledging their love for their grandmother and their desire to see her, and including them in a plan to arrange for a visit soon. You are providing a supportive, positive response with an explanation, rather than a negative response with no reasoning behind it.


It is important to offer an explanation with a positive response, as this helps educate our children. For example, if they are playing with their food and not eating it, you could say, “I’m worried you will be hungry later if you don’t eat your food. How do the carrots taste today?” This gives the reasoning behind why they should be eating at this time and re-directs them to their food.


Positive redirection can be helpful, too. When you divert your child’s attention, keep in mind you are shifting it to something that meets a similar need. You also harness your child’s curiosity and sense of adventure rather than curtailing it. For example, if your child wants to color and they color on the walls, you could say, “Paper is for coloring. Here is a big cardboard box. You could create something with this and color this instead.”


With a positive direction, try narrating what you see and explain what could happen next. This offers insight to our children about the consequences of their actions. So, rather than saying, “Stop pulling off your coat,” you could say, “I see you’re taking off your coat again. It looks like you don’t want to go outside and play today.”


With a simple twist in our words, our child’s behavior could shift from a massive meltdown to cooperation. At the end of today, I invite you to consider all the moments you said “No” to your children. Wonder how you responded in those moments and reflect on ways that each “No” could have been a “Yes.”

  • Elle Walsh