Using the word “No” with children has become somewhat controversial because some parents believe it constrains children and limits their self-worth and potential. While it may be true, there are instances where “No” is helpful. In those instances, a firm boundary must be in place as not to be swayed by a child’s ability to manipulate, cry and throw temper tantrums. Wouldn’t it be nice not to see all that candy near the checkouts in grocery stores where most kids will throw a hissy fit? Would you as a parent give in so you don’t have all those eyes on you, judging your parenting skills?

It may be helpful to thwart off the situation by having a talk with your child beforehand. For example, “We are going to the store and there will be candy at the checkout, but I am not going to buy that for you, because we have snacks at home. How about we have a snack when we get back?” Reward your child for positive behavior by following through with love, attention, and the snack you promised.

What about running in a parking lot? How does this sound?: “NO!!! DON’T RUN! YOU’RE GOING TO GET HURT!” Instead, “Listen, parking lots can be dangerous. There are a lot of cars, and sometimes people don’t see others. We have to walk together. Hold my hand and watch out with me so we can be safe.” Involve your children so they feel engaged and important. Stay off your cell phone while walking in places like these, to set a good example. People are prone to all types of dangerous situations when they aren’t paying attention.

Children that experience more yeses than nos are much more likely to succeed and feel more optimistic in life. Children who are raised with valid nos and parents who have strong boundaries learn self-respect and honor other people’s boundaries.