Just Say No

Can I Please Have It?

The Supermarket Sweet Tooth

At the checkout, your child grabs her favorite candy bar off the rack, holds it up with that pleading look on her face, and reminds you that she did all her chores.

Why you should refuse: You're training her to eat well and establish good nutrition habits for life. Sticking to a no-candy policy at the supermarket helps put her on a healthier path.

How to say no:

  • "You know we don't buy candy every time we go to the store."
  • "No, put it back."

Typical kid comeback:

  • "I'll buy the candy with my own money."

Smart parent responses:

  • "Sorry. My job is to make sure you stay healthy. I have all sorts of treats in our cart."
  • "No means no."

The Must-Have Item

Your son's friend just got a video iPod, and your child wants one too.

Why you should refuse: This is a key opportunity to reinforce your family's values and help your child realize that money doesn't grow on trees. Saying no is a lesson in how the world works: You can't always get what you want.

How to say no:

  • "Wow, that's a pretty big gift and it's not even his birthday. Do you know how much it costs?"

Typical kid comeback:

  • "We can afford it."

Smart parent responses:

  • "We could use that money to help pay for a vacation or to fix our deck so we can all have fun outside."
  • "If you had a video iPod, you'd watch too much TV."

The Dog You'll Be Walking

"I want a dog" is a refrain that lingers in households for years. Your child promises she'll take care of it, and, in theory, she means what she says: "I'll walk him, brush him, and feed him."

Why you should refuse: Don't agree unless you'd really like a dog yourself, because you'll be doing 95 percent of the work -- including the last walk at night after your child's in bed.

How to say no:

  • "I understand you really want a dog, but no."
  • "What have you done to help around the house without my asking that shows me you're ready to take care of a dog?"

Typical kid comeback:

  • "Please! I promise I'll feed him every day."

Smart parent responses:

  • "Since Daddy and I both work, a dog would be home alone too much."
  • "We can talk about this again next year when you're older."

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