3 Reasons I Tell My Kids, "No"


When my kids were little, I constantly uttered the word, “No.”

  • “No, don’t touch the stove.”

  • “No, don’t run into the street.”

  • “No, don’t crush your brother’s head.”

But as they started developing into their own persons, my emotions shifted. When they were little, their safety depended on my warning, but as they grew older I felt a hesitation.

At first, I ignored this inclination, but eventually I investigated my heart and discovered the reason; I wanted them to like me.

I understood I couldn’t always say “Yes,” but the rejection of “No” seemed unbearable. Maybe became my favorite response, but it soon backfired.

Photo by  Andrew Seaman  on  Unsplash

Indecision Creates Confusion

When I used to pick Jacob up from preschool, he inundated me with requests: “Can I play with friends at the park? Can they spend the night? Can we go camping? When are we going to Disney World? When can I travel out of the country like you and Daddy?”

Each question that flowed from Jacob’s mouth surrounded me with anxiety. I dreaded giving him a negative answer, so I responded with “Maybe” or, “We’ll see.” My indecisiveness confused Jacob, so he changed the meaning of maybe to yes in his mind, which led to this consistent arguement:

“But Mama, you said I could...”

”No I didn't!”

”Yes you did!”

UGH! Why am I arguing with my 5 year old again?


In an effort to avoid disappointing my children, I created chaos. I realized I needed to provide clear and direct answers. I learned to say, "I am not saying “Yes”, and I am not saying “NO”. My answer is, “Maybe” because I need time to decide. If you persist, my answer is definitely “No”. But if you give me time to think about my answer, I might say, “YES."

Discipline exasperated me until I learned these concepts from Ginger Hubbard’s book, Don’t Make Me Count to Three. I hope these three principles help you say, “No.”


  1. It's my job to show my kids their sin.

    Our kids won’t know why they misbehave unless we teach them about sin. They need to know why they feel broken, angry or selfish. They need to know why they are tempted to fight with their friends or siblings. It is our responsibility to teach them that ”All children are foolish, but firm correction will make them change” (Proverbs 22:15 ESV). In reality, adults are also foolish and need discipline. The Lord corrects us through consequences and authority and we are obligated to do the same with our children.

  2. It's my job to train them to overcome it

    We often label our children good or bad according to their behavior, but this is legalism. I teach my children that they make good or bad choices which bring good or bad consequences. When my kids make a bad choice, I am tempted to feel like a failure, or maybe even to view them as failures. When “all the feels” invade your mom-mind, remind yourself that Jesus loves them more than you do (even if that’s hard to believe). Trust Jesus with your investment into your kids and believe the Word you have poured into them will lure them back into God’s presence soon. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Start a youth out on his way; even when he grows old he will not depart from it” ‭(CSB‬‬).

  3. It's my job to show them how to find joy in their trials

    Ginger Hubbard says, "If we could view all of their sinful behaviors as precious opportunities to teach them then we would be far more righteous in our training. We would be joyful and eager all the time rather than angry and frustrated." If you are a frustrated mom, I give you permission to roll your eyes. I understand your kids’ tantrums and disrespect don’t feel like “precious opportunities.” But if we remain aggravated by our children’s sin, how are we teaching them to view their own sin? If discipline out of frustration, how will they view God’s discipline?

    James 1:2-4 says, "Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing." Do we believe testing produces endurance and maturity? If so, we must show our kids that the joy of a trial comes from the fruit of its result; endurance and maturity.

Let’s Talk!

I want to hear from you! What parenting books revolutionized your perspective? What advice helped you say “No” to your kids?

© 2018 Sharie King. All rights reserved.

(This blog has been updated and revised from its original content.)