Parenting: Discipline and consistency is tough when your child responds with “NO!” By: Annie Undis, Psychiatric Technician

Nov 18, 2013 by Annie Undis

What do I do when my child tells me “no!” PrairieCare, we get this question a lot.

“When I ask my child to clean his room before watching TV or playing his DS he looks at me and just says “no”. He totally refuses to do it!”

At our Inpatient Unit, Partial Hospital Program, and Intensive Outpatient Programs, we get told “no” by a lot of the kids, too. So how should we all handle this? Staff at PrairieCare are trained to use a few simple steps during these kinds of refusal situations.

1. Don’t ask the child to do something. Tell them to.

Does this mean staff and parents can be yelling at the kids:“Clean your room NOW!!”? Of course not! However, using ineffective commands gives an option to the child of whether or not they should do it. Staff and parents are advised to communicate with children this way: “It is time to clean your room. When you are done, you can play with your DS.” Instead of this way: “Will you clean your room before playing with your DS?”

2. When the child says no, state the consequence.

Parent: “It is time to clean your room. When you are done, you can play with your DS.”

Child: “No! I am going to play with my DS now!”

Parent (if you have control over the object): “I have your DS, so until you clean your room, you cannot have your DS.”


Parent (if you do not have control over the object): “If you decide to play with your DS before cleaning your room, then you cannot go to your friend’s to play this afternoon.”

Using an “If, then” statement with the child makes their consequences clear to them. At PrairieCare, staff uses “If, then” statements daily to help children make decisions. This gives the child the power to choose what consequence they receive from staff/parents!

3. Follow through with the consequence!

This step is the most important for parents and anyone who works with children or adolescence. Following through with the consequence shows the child that you are sticking to what you said; and no matter what they do, you will not change your mind. If the child/teen sees staff or parents go back on the consequence, they will most likely assume that we will do it again; setting ourselves up for a fight in the future.

4. Congratulate or thank the child for following directions!

Everyone likes to be recognized for good work we have done. Thanking your child for doing the right thing gives them the chance to feel proud and lets them know that you are really appreciating them and their hard work.

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