From the moment a child learns how to walk, they start hearing the word ‘no.’ Parents get just as tired of saying 'no' to their children as the children do of hearing it. Here are some alternatives to saying 'no' while still establishing firm and secure boundaries as your children grow up and without driving everyone crazy in the process.

1Agree And Offer A Choice

Agree on your terms, not theirs. Say, 'Yes, that is a good idea. Let's do that later.' Also, try to give them a different option by offering choices. You can tell your child, 'How about we have this instead.' or 'You could have that, or you could have this instead.' Your 'this' should be a better option than what your children asked for initially.

2Get Playful With Your Child

Make up a silly song or dance. Include what they’re asking for in the lyrics for bonus points. It shows that you hear them, but, at the same time, you’re redirecting their interest in that particular item in a new direction.

3Divert Your Child's Attention

Sometimes, all you need is a quick change of subject. Try to point out something that's interesting. If we're talking about young children, offer them a toy that they particularly like. You can also use a favorite character from books, TV, or movies and ask what they would do if they're faced with the choice.

4Enlist Help From Authority Figures

Remind your children what their dentist or doctor said about sugary snacks when they're begging for treats. Couple that with a little wise advice along the lines of, 'Hey, remember when your doctor said you should snack on a nice piece of fruit?' Just remember to keep this positive – the last thing you want to do is to paint an authority figure as the ‘bad guy.’

5Commiserate And Remind Your Child

Sympathize with your child; after all, it’s not so hard to remember when you wanted that very thing yourself. Sometimes, a little sympathy goes a long way. Also, remind your child of what happened the last time they asked. You can tell them, 'Remember last time when we went to the park, and it rained? That wasn’t much fun, was it?'

6Make A Sign

Start with an art project. Make a big sign that says ‘OK’ on one side and ‘NOT OK’ on the other. When a situation that calls for a decision comes up, point to the sign as the final authority.

The word ‘no’ doesn’t have to be present to establish a boundary. By using these alternative suggestions, not only will your child be enjoying a more positive environment in which to grow, but you, as the parent, will be more relaxed and happier as well. Remember, ‘no’ might be necessary, but it doesn’t have to be the only word you choose to get your point across.

Donna Gaillard

Donna Gaillard, a resident of Johnson City, Tennessee, works as a quantitative analyst. In her line of work, she has to say 'no' to many people, and that wasn't always easy. Over time, she has learned that the power of saying 'no' is truly valuable.