How to teach your child to accept “No” as your answer.

As a kid I sold newspaper subscriptions door to door – and I was good at it. I won scads of prizes and trips – electronics, watches, TVs, bicycles – including a tandem bike that was lots of fun. I even won a trip to England and Austria.

Hang in there. I’m making a really important point about parenting.

I learned that you don’t start selling till the person says, “No”. When I knocked on a door I knew they didn’t want the newspaper – or they would have already subscribed. I would give a short pitch, wait for them to say, “No” then start convincing them, based upon the excuse they gave, why they needed to say “Yes”. There’s an old saying about successful salesmen (and kids).

They don’t know how to take “no” for an answer.

Here’s a weird thought. What if you’re accidentally training your kids to not take “No” for an answer? It may make them a successful salesman but it will sure drive you crazy as a parent.

How to train your child to not take “No” for an answer (which btw, is not a positive thing).

  1. Allow your child to counter or question everything you say or ask them to do.
    For example:
  • “No, you can’t have chocolate cake for breakfast!”  – Why not? It has eggs in it.
  • “John, please put your toys away now.”  –  But I’ll just have to get them out again later.
  • And I love this recent one from my granddaughter: “No, you can’t have the lollipop until after you eat something good for you.”   –   “But if eating healthy food makes me stronger and eating sweets makes me weaker I should eat the unhealthy food first. Then I will be weak. But then I’ll eat the healthy food and it’ll make me strong again. But if I eat the healthy food first then I’ll eat the unhealthy food and get weak again.”
  1. Once he questions your instructions, you must counter his resistance with a valid explanation.
  • “Yes, chocolate cake has eggs but it also has tons of sugar you don’t need for breakfast.”
  • “We need to leave soon and I don’t want your toys spread all over the house.”
  • Actually, the “lollipop first and healthy food later” makes pretty good sense to me. I’d let her eat the lollipop. After all, life’s short, eat your dessert first.
  1. Then each time they challenge your explanation you must give another reasonable explanation as to why your request makes more sense than their objection.
  2. Finally, you will run out of reasons – because they will never run out of excuses – and you let them have their way.
    Voila! You have taught your child that if they argue with you long enough they will eventually get what they want.

If we feel we have to justify every request we train our kids to resist our authority unless what we are asking makes sense to them. Can you do that at work with your boss? Not if you want to keep your job very long – right?

Children need to learn that just the fact that you, the parent, told them to do something is reason enough for them to do it. Yes, there is a time for explaining the logic for it but it’s after obedience, not before.

When my kids wanted to know why they needed to do something I frequently told them, “Go do what I told you to do and then come back and I’ll explain the reason.” It’s amazing. I don’t remember a single time that, after obedience, they came back to discover the reason.

As a kid selling newspapers I could tell right away the houses where “No” meant “No” and those I had a chance to convince. If “No” meant “No” I moved on and didn’t waste my time trying to sell. But for those who were wavering I’d keep talking till they signed up or closed the door on me.

Your kid needs to learn that when you say “No”, you mean “No” and that they’re wasting their time with the sales pitch.

That will happen as you stop giving excuses, stop arguing, stop trying to explain your reason for every request. Clearly express your expectations and then slowly close the door on the salesman.

All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.
Matthew 5:37

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