Teaching Kids to Accept “No”

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

By Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D

bSci21Media, LLC

Brett DiNovi, M.A., BCBA

Brett DiNovi & Associates

Of all of the situations that evoke problematic behavior in our kids, saying “no” is high on the list.  If you are struggling to have your kids appropriately accept “no”, Angela Chambers BCaBA and Brett DiNovi, BCBA provide a few guidelines in the video above.

Say “No” one time, and one time only.

If your child wants to run out into the street, for example, Angela recommends telling your child “no” only once.  If he/she persists, focus on redirecting the child’s attention to a new task instead of engaging directly with the resistance.  Redirection can be physical or verbal, as by using open hands to guide the child away from the front door of by asking th child to help you iwith another activity.  The key is that you are promoting an alternative activity or conversation that takes the child’s attention away from the problematic behavior, while eliminating access to the desired task using a minimum of attention.

Provide choices.

Angela cautions that, many times, parents say “no” without offering up alternatives.  A classic example is making the bed.  Compare “you need to make your bed” to “would you like to make your bed now or in 15 minutes?”.  Similarly, when redirecting, offering an alternative choice to the original problematic behavior can make a huge difference. Consider offering up an alternative, yet functionally equivalant, behavior when telling your child “no.”  For example, “no you cannot run into the street, but would you like to play together on the swingset?” offers an alternative and functionally similar activity, if running into the street was functioning to gain attention from parents.

If you say “no”, you have to own it.

According to Brett, many parents tend to automatically say “no” to their kids almost without thinking about it.  However, he cautions that you should really think about the consequences of telling your child “no.”  Once you say “no” you have to own it. You are responsible for seeing the contingency through.  Once your child learns to negotiate with you, then your “no” will mean nothing the next time.

Be sure to check out the full video and to subscribe to Brett DiNovi’s YouTube channel and let them know what you would like to see in future videos.  Also be sure to subscribe to bSci21 to receive the latest articles directly to your inbox!

Todd A. Ward, PhD, BCBA-D is the President and Founder of bSci21Media, LLC, which owns the top behavior analytic media outlet in the world, bSci21.org.  bSci21Media aims to disseminate behavior analysis to the world and to support ABA companies around the globe through the Behavioral Science in the 21st Century blog and its subsidiaries, bSciEntrepreneurial, bSciWebDesign, bSciWriting, bSciStudios and the ABA Outside the Box CEU series.  Dr. Ward received his PhD in behavior analysis from the University of Nevada, Reno under Dr. Ramona Houmanfar.  He has served as a Guest Associate Editor of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, and as an Editorial Board member of Behavior and Social Issues.  Dr. Ward has also provided ABA services to children and adults with various developmental disabilities in day centers, in-home, residential, and school settings, and previously served as Faculty Director of Behavior Analysis Online at the University of North Texas.  Dr. Ward is passionate about disseminating behavior analysis to the world and growing the field through entrepreneurship. Todd can be reached at [email protected]

Brett DinoviBrett DiNovi, M.A., BCBA has the unique and distinguished experience of studying the principles of applied behavior analysis under the rigorous scrutiny of both Dr. Julie S. Vargas (formerly Skinner) and Dr. E.A. Vargas at West Virginia University’s internationally recognized program. For the past 26 years, Brett has used behavior analytic principles to create large scale change across school districts, Fortune 500 companies using principles of Organizational Behavior Management (OBM), and across individual learners. Brett has been a OBM consultant in Morgantown WV, an instructor at West Virginia University, a guest lecturer at numerous universities, a speaker on multiple Comcast Newsmakers TV programs, an expert witness in due process hearings, has publications in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, and has been in in executive leadership positions across schools and residential programs nationwide. In addition to an award from South Jersey Biz Magazine for “Best Places to Work,” an award for “Best of Families” in Suburban Magazine, and the distinguished “Top Ranked U.S. Executives” award, Brett’s proudest accomplishment is being a role model and father for his daughter and two stepchildren (one of which has autism). Brett can be reached at [email protected]

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