Things To Say Instead Of "No" – A Gentle Parenting Approach

Gentle Parenting is a term that came from the attachment parenting style. Attachment parenting is more focused on babies and really young children while gentle parenting is more focused on the preschool and beyond. Learning respectful ways to speak with your preschool-aged child (even when they drive you crazy!) can make a world of difference for your overall relationship with them.

The phrase Positive Parenting is essentially the same thing as Gentle Parenting and I’ve even heard the term child rights being used in the same context. Labels are all around us, but the main focus of Gentle Parenting is to provide gentle guidance to our children throughout their childhood so they become well-rounded adults.

If you are using gentle parenting phrases around your home, I would suggest having a guideline printed out for any nanny’s or babysitters if you would like them to use the same techniques you are using in your daily lives.

A good place to start is to eliminate negative words that sound like orders. Words like “Stop”, “Don’t” and “No” do have alternatives that are less negative.

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A Reason To Eliminate “Stop” From Your Daily Life

We are pretty much raised on the words “Stop” “Don’t” and “No”. It can be tricky to bend the mind and learn positive phrases to use instead.

The things is, when we say the word “Stop”, it’s as if we are demanding or coaching instructions at our little people, who let’s face it, need a little extra guidance for all tasks given to them.

When we learn to use positive language when communicating with our little people, we connect on a deeper level with someone who is still developing their speaking skills.

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Breaking down the barriers of communication at an early age will help in the tough years when communication gets extra difficult.

The term Gentle Parenting is not about conforming to the next best thing and being soft parents raising children who are entitled and don’t know punishment. I’ve heard all the judgements out there! It’s a harsh world where everyone has an opinion.

Gentle Parenting is all about understanding the brain development of kids and young adults and learning to speak in ways that they can understand.

As Mrs. Brill Over At Positive Parenting Connection Experienced:

Just this morning my two year old was washing her hands. The water had been running for almost a minute and I really wanted it turned off.I was really tempted to just shut the water. Yet, knowing just how engaged and happy she was washing her hands and investigating the soap, I asked a few quick questions instead: “Are you enjoying washing your hands?”  “YES!” “Well,the water has been running for a while.
How about turning it off? Who is going to do it, me or You? “I do it Self!” came the answer and promptly.

She turned off the water and moved onto drying her hands.  

Read More At Positive Parenting Connection

It’s really all about telling our children what they CAN do, instead of the opposite, negative “No”.

Accompanying the YES in our positive phrases, there is also explanation and reasoning behind the YES which helps them understand and problem solve the situation and understand the reasoning behind the hidden NO.

Speaking To Children Respectfully

The point of Gentle Parenting isn’t to simply stop sounding like an army general commander who constantly orders their children around. There is more to it than that. The point of speaking to children in a respectful manner is to simply create strong bonds and unbreakable family ties. I know I strive to create a family environment that is positive, welcoming and we treat each other well.

There are many hard days in our household, and it feels like sometimes, there isn’t enough patience – on my end – to go around. But the thing is, I know that when I yell instructions at my kids, things don’t get accomplished, and I end up either having to do it myself or yelling some more.

These kinds of situations that are frustrating beyond belief, can usually be wiped out completely with some positive language. Building that trust with your children when you use positive phrases builds strong relationships and children usually believe that the parent is on their side and will work to make things fair for everyone.

Sometimes even the kindest parents are giving some type of an order to children throughout the day. Throughout the morning rush, do you say things like:

  • Time to get dressed!
  • Put that away.
  • Wash your face, please.
  • Don’t forget your jacket.
  • Come here.

Those are pretty standard phrases, and honestly, most of them can be modified to not sound like orders. Children likely get a hundred orders a day from us, and the simple fact of the matter is, they don’t need to be orders. They can be conversations instead.

See how you can easily change those orders into conversations:

  • How about we get dressed now? I’ve got breakfast waiting for you when you’re all dressed and ready to eat. 
  • Do you think we can play with that later? There is so much left to do this morning, let’s finish our to-do list and then we can play.
  • Oh my goodness, you still have breakfast on your face! Why don’t you go rinse off your face before we leave the house? 
  • It’s a little chilly today, let’s grab your jacket just in case you need it. 
  • I have something I wanted to say to you, would you like to come over here and hear it? 

What To Say Instead Of Stop, No, Don’t

When you’re just getting started with training your mind to avoid the negative words, it can be a challenge and you’re really going to need to think about it.

Thank goodness I have some suggestions for you so you don’t have to think as hard as I once had to when training my brain to be positive!

Let’s remember gentle hands
(“No Hitting” “Stop Fighting”) 

Outside is a good place for being loud
(No Shouting Inside The House!) 

Let’s try to breathe through these yucky feelings
(Calm Down, Stop Crying, No Whining) 

Let’s use kind words, please 
(Don’t say that, Don’t talk like that) 

Shoes are for your feet, remember?
(Stop throwing your shoes around the house) 

Why don’t you ask if you can use it when he is finished
or
You really want to play with that, don’t you? What could you say to her instead?’
(No fighting!) 

It’s windy outside today, let’s check the weather and see if tomorrow is good to take a walk
(No, we can’t walk today)

 Your toy car will be waiting for you at home when we are all finished our grocery shop 
(No you can’t bring your toy car) 

Let’s play at the park a different day, today we have so many other things we need to get done and I need your help!
(No park today)

 Remember to walk in the house, please
(No running in the house!)

 If we eat all the popsicles in one day, there won’t be any left for tomorrow. And if you have too many, your tummy might get sore! Let’s save some for tomorrow. 
(No more popsicles) 

There are a few more things that we need to do before we can watch a show, let’s go do them now and I’ll put on your favourite show right after. 
(No TV right now) 

Are you feeling frustrated when the boxes fall down? How can you solve this problem?
(Stop crying, they are just boxes)

When you as open-ended questions instead of giving a command, you are giving your child the opportunity to think about something else instead of the issue at hand.

Reminding children what the positive phrases are so that they can use them as well is also important. For instance:

Jonny says: Play cars with me.

You can respond with “We invite instead of order around, right?”

My favourite thing my son does right now at dinner time when there is something on his plate that he doesn’t like the looks of, he says ” This is different!” when I KNOW he means to say “this looks yucky and I don’t want to try it”.

Children learn from us, so if we can use positive language when speaking to them, they will in turn, use positive language to speak to us back.

Tell Me About You

Do you have any negative phrases that you catch yourself saying from time to time?  Do you think you can implement positive/gentle parenting in your home? Why or why not?

I would love to hear about it.

15 thoughts on “Things To Say Instead Of "No" – A Gentle Parenting Approach”

  1. This is so nice! I know it can be hard too when you’re stressed and tired as a parent, but it’s so important that kids feel heard and respected too.

  2. Some great reminders here – I need to be more conscious of the words I use when our little guy is melting down. Helping him breathe through his feelings is a great option.

    1. tiredmomsupermom

      The two’s are not terrible! They are just difficult for all parties involved. You should check out my post on handling toddler tantrums in public with gentle parenting! Those techniques really work for my own children, they can help you as well maybe!

  3. Thank you for this. The other day I had a moment where I realized how much of my day is spent telling my 3 year old no. This post really helps me reframe my mindset.

  4. These are such great turnarounds!! It’s almost like learning a new language which takes time and of course patience, but the way your suggested phrases warm my heart show that they are the better path to take when speaking with our kids.

  5. As a teacher, I try my best to use more encouraging words as “no” and “stop” don’t help. It might be easy to use but encouraging the kids to think about their actions or know what to do it more helpful.

  6. Pingback: 6 Simple Positive Parenting Techniques To Try Today

  7. You have no idea how much I need this post tonight. So bad in fact that I’m trying not to cry.

    Ever since my son was born almost 11 months ago, I’ve been rethinking parenting and family dynamics and what I’m used to.

    Long story short, Gentle and Attachment Parenting is where I’ve landed and feel in my heart is right.

    Trying to discuss it with other important people in my sons life is often messy and overwhelming, like one conversation that took place earlier tonight.

    So it’s very encouraging to read a down to earth, real life mom talk about gentle parenting in a non-judgmental way.

    Thank you so much.

    1. tiredmomsupermom

      I am over the moon for this comment! I am so glad that this article touched you, and I am so sympathetic to growing up with a non gentle parenting approach! It sure is a life-changing thing to be able to parent your child without anger and constant negative words such as no.

      Others seem to think that approach means being a pushover parent, but it is not that at all. You can still stand your ground, but does it HAVE to be negative? NO! 🙂

      You’ve got this Motherhood thing Courtney, you’re doing great.

  8. Pingback: 13 Comforting Phrases To Calm Down A Sad or Crying Child - Tired Mom Supermom

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