Understanding Why We Have To Say The Word "No" and Feel No Guilt

The word no is the first and most serious problem between parents and child as they start to impose limits on him. Check out why you should say no

The word “no” will be essential for the child in his fight to become a defined individual with his owns ideas yet at the same time with limitations. It’s usually when they take their first steps that the word no is uttered repetitively from parents mouths.

But, this is the first and most serious problem between parents and child as they start to impose limits on him. Parents, until now just suppliers who only existed to satisfy the demands of the baby, start to become “unpleasant deniers”.

With his own ideas: “I like this and I don’t like this”, “I want this and I don’t want this”, etc.
With limitations: “this you can do and this you can’t”, “this you can do but you shouldn’t”, “this can hurt you”, “this is dangerous”, “this is forbidden”.

The word “no” sets boundaries, and to have limits is to carry our obligations to show them how life works. To educate is a job, and a job, which is carried out at school. The hardest part consists in knowing how and when it’s necessary to say a clear and resounding “NO” without going back on it.

To handle “no” is to grow. Children have a right to try, to see how far they can go, due to their omnipotent nature they think they can do anything. But us adults, we have to stop them as allowing them to do anything is dangerous.

What is this thing frustration?


You’ll have heard a thousand times or more: “what he has to do is get frustrated”, “he doesn’t have much tolerance with frustration”, etc. If truth were told, frustration is a question of degrees:

From the the extreme of a child screaming, crying and throwing himself on the ground when he doesn’t get what he wants.

To one who doesn’t resist anything, doesn’t insist on anything and doesn’t feel upset at not getting what he wants.

It is necessary for there to be a degree of sadness at not getting what you wanted, although he will be distracted soon by something else. It’s necessary to cry for what you can’t have and to live the experience that “life goes on” despite not getting what you want.

Should you give your child explanations?


It is important to explain a “yes” or a “no” where the situation permits in which your child can understand. However, sometimes we’re afraid to give our children a firm and robust no. We get wound up into long explanations as if we are apologizing for imposing our authority, as though we were asking them for permission to be their parents, to educate them.

Sometimes the “no” has to be given straight without any frilly bits. But at other times we say no too often or give unfounded no’s which are unnecessary or irrelevant. And we end up wasting our time with fights, which don’t go any place.

It is important that a no is precise, clear and nearly always irrevocable.

In any case, a “no” is like a bitter medicine which is administered with difficulty but which is the only medicine which cures the anarchy and omnipotence and prepares us for a life where difficulties can be handled and tolerated.

Some limits that are lighter than others but all equally important.

The clearest limits are


  • Limits which relate to their personal safety such as crossing the road alone or picking up dangerous objects
  • Not breaking or destroying things
  • Not hurting others

Limits that are not so clear


Respecting age generations and hierarchy. It’s fundamental that children understand and accept that they are the children and their parents are the adults. Children’s omnipotence tries to object to this and to sometimes switch roles.

Respect parental intimacy and privacy as well as individual boundaries. Respect each parental figure in their profession, hobbies, etc.…. and sleep in your own bed and not in your parent’s bed. This is very important which is sometimes neglected. This is exceeding a very important barrier.

A fundamental rule is that important things are only said once if they have to be said for the second time and a sanction should follow. The essential function of this rule is to avoid desperate reactions, sanctions that we apply at times when we see ourselves being stretched to the limits.

With this, we give our children security as they learn that someone holds the reins and they will ensure that they never get hurt and that they are happy.

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