It is OK to say “NO” to your child.

This is something that many of today’s parents are confused about. On the one hand they want to raise the “perfect” child who is well-mannered and knows how to behave in all situations.

On the other hand, they don’t want to assume the mantle of a tyrant and keep such strict controls over their young child that they will be repressed and forever lacking in self-esteem and self-control that they may be the unwilling victim of bullying for the rest of their life.

I firmly believe that too many behavioural problems are caused by the lack of the word “NO” at the right time. Neither should it be the only word your child hears during their toddler years, so you must remain calm and clear, and be prepared to let them explore the world around them, but within safe limits.


“NO” should not be spoken in anger, but instead with assertion.


Imagine your child is about to chase a ball onto a road. All your child sees is the ball over there and they understand that they need to go and get it. The concept of a road being potentially dangerous is totally alien to them. Your child has not developed mentally enough to be able to plan for that possibility. You need to know this and prepare for these situations.

In this case, you have no idea whether a car is coming, but it is best to stop your child before anything terrible might happen. Say “NO” with assertion, and loudly so that they hear it. Tell them to wait at the kerb for you, then hold their hand firmly and explain about looking to both sides of the road.

Turn your child’s head with your hands if you must, but make sure they understand what needs to be done here. When the road is clear, you take them to the ball, so they can pick it up and carry it back. During this time you are controlling the situation so it is safe for your child and you are teaching them the correct way to retrieve a ball, or to cross a road when they are older.

Hold hands with your child up to the age of 10 years old as they don’t yet have the mental capacity to time the speed of an oncoming vehicle with the time it takes to cross a road safely.

You will need to repeat this process many times, possibly over many years, before your child is able to safely perform this activity on their own.