“NO!” 2 letters- but it delivers such a strong message. Have you had to go through countless “NO” episodes? Have you ever felt helpless with that response and ran out of ways to deal with that child who looks like you but makes you mutter under your breath “Who is this person I created?”

There is certainly no one way to deal with your child not agreeing to what you want or need them to do. At Astor International School, here are 10 examples of how we turn those NOs into YESes. The same strategy does not always work, but we hope 1 out of these 10 will work for you at any given moment. There are 3 parts to this article. In part 1 of this article, I will share 3 examples for you to try with your child first.

1. Start by saying Yes to them

Whether we are aware of it or not, children are observing everything we do. They emulate the things we do because those are seen as ‘normal’ or ‘accepted’. We need to be mindful of the things we say and do.

If we do not want them to say no to us, we should not make it a commonly said word in the house either. Say yes, tactfully and within reason. For example, when a student comes up to me for help while I am busy teaching his friend, I will say “Yes, I can help you after I am done helping your friend.”, or “Yes, I can help you spell after you have asked 3 of your friends and if none of them are able to assist you.”

It is so easy to say no that sometimes we say it without even giving the child’s request some thought. Taking a minute before answering will help you say yes more often. When your child is used to hearing and receiving “Yes” as a response, the word “No” will naturally be unused in your household.

2. Give them a choice

It is literally what it is- give your child a choice to make their own decision. It is dinner time and your child is walking around while eating. Surely we do not want that because it is not basic table manners. Instead of saying “No, you can’t walk around and eat.”, say “Either you sit and eat, or you get up and do what you want for a minute and come back to sit down.” You are making it clear you are not giving them an option to walk around and eat.


When he/she has chosen 1 out of the 2 options you gave, repeat the option back to them, “So you said you are going to get up for a minute and come back to eat, yes?” Chances are, you are going to get a yes as an answer because you empowered them to make a decision on their own- this is what they are going to think. In actual fact, you are making them do what you want them to do which is to sit and eat. Battle won.

3. Say it simply. Repeat.

With young children, say it concisely and clearly. Then repeat 2 or 3 more times. In my class, when I want my students to write their day and date on a new page, I can say “Alright everyone, please turn to a brand new page. I want you to write your day and date.” But I will not say that because there are a lot of unnecessary words which will likely cause them to tune out. Instead, I say “Brand new page. Day and date at the top.” I say these 2 or 3 times more to ensure my instructions get heard.


Another good example is when they do not turn in work that is of a high standard. Instead of spending 5 minutes trying to explain to them that their work needs improvement, I will ask “Is Ms. Lina going to be happy with this work?”. Most of the time, my students will say no when they get asked this question. Then I will say “Fix it. Come back later.” This strategy has been working for me in the past 8 years I have been teaching. None of my students have insisted I check their work when it is not up to a high standard. I did not say I was upset with their work. They said it. The odds are in my favour- I am making my students subconsciously say yes to my request of checking their work again.


There you go - 3 ways for you to try at home with your child. Look out for parts 2 and 3!


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