9 Ways You Can Try to Change a Child’s NO Into Yes

Adelina Vasile
9 min readJun 22, 2021

Plus a desperate, tenth way that I don’t like but rarely use.

There are many stages in a child’s evolution, but the one that is most likely to grow a parent's gray hair is the NO stage. That, along with the WHY stage, but the NO (with variations of NO WAY and NOT IN A MILLION YEARS) is by far the most exasperating one.

I’ve talked about the reasons why children say no even when they feel like saying yes right here, so I have to add. Next to the too small (the child), too vague (the request), too tired/uninterested (again, the child), the decision to not cooperate may have to do with the need to express some form of autonomy.

Truth to be told, sometimes (read most of the time) we can’t afford to sit there and meditate on the child’s reasonings. We want to make him meet us halfway (preferably our half of the way) and just do what we need him to do. For those situations, I have a list of potential approaches that I like to tick, in this particular order. I’ll get to it in a minute, but first…

A Scenario

Let’s say we’re meeting some friends at their house and we’re expected to be there at a certain hour. Mathew (two years and eight months old) knows about it, we’ve been talking about the visit for a couple of days.

I’ve finished all the preps and packed all his things. And when I go upstairs to grab him by his ladybug wing, what do I see? He’s lying on the floor, in his birthday suit, watching an ant.

-What are you doing, buddy, are you ready?

-No. (D’oh, I can see that)

-Why not? (I know, silly question) Let’s get you ready.


-Why not? (Not necessarily a silly question, but still, you’d think I know better by now)

-Mathew doesn’t want to go.

-Why not? (I’m mentally taking out my list of strategies to tick because the child’s answer is usually not helpful and in the range of — I don’t want, let’s not go, let’s stay home…)

What Do You Do When Your Child Says No?

I like to try one of the following nine strategies, with a tenth one saved for the last. With…

Adelina Vasile

Mother, educator, journalist, copywriter. I write about the things I need to learn myself. Check my Substack here >> https://undressingcopy.substack.com/