Redefine No

What if we could completely change…

>> What IT MEANS when our child says “NO”


>> What WE DO when a child says “NO”?

We can!

For me, it started with this question.

👉 “What if I don’t engage in the battle when my child pushes back?”

I tried that out for a while and then asked myself.

👉 “What if there is no battle to engage in?”

Or as Roslyn Ross says it…

🙌 “For a child to be defiant there must be someone to defy.”

Yesterday I asked one of my kiddos to do the dishes. (They are on spring break so the biggest item on the agenda was watching another episode of Sweet Magnolia.)

She said, “Mom I don’t want to.”

Years ago I would have been caught completely off guard. I would have thought.

“What’s going wrong?😢 I’m super connected to my child. Why would she ‘defy’ me?”

I would have felt like I needed to ask again and again. Or maybe I would have felt the need to resort to punishments or rewards to get her to do her chores and help out around the house.

I would have felt desperate and out of control.

Maybe I would even have felt disrespected.

💥 But yesterday I reminded myself she’s just trying to figure out how to assert herself. She’s trying to exert her will. She’s trying to express herself.

If I had decided to yell or jump right into using a punishment or reward to ‘get’ her to do the dishes…what message would I be sending? Perhaps she would have interpreted my yelling to mean, “Mom doesn’t care about me.” OR “I’m not a very good kid for not wanting to help out.” Or “I’m lazy.”



“OK, you don’t have to do the dishes right now. What would you like to do?”

I was able to stay calm because…I saw her reluctance to do the dishes as an indicator that she wasn’t doing well. It was information letting me know about something going on inside of her.


So I took a deep breath and stopped and looked at her in the eyes and got a little silly. She laughed. She had music playing on her phone and we danced for a minute to the music. She softened and took a deep breath.

I gave her a hug and smiled. Then…


”Mom, I don’t want to do it right now. I need some time. I’m just not in the mood.” I said, “I get it. It’s hard to feel like doing work during spring break. You can take a break and do the dishes in a bit.” I gave her a hug and went to work on something else.


A few hours later we went on our spring break lunch run to In-N-Out. We were jamming to music. She wanted it so loud that I could feel it vibrate in my chest. Then she turned it down and said… ”Mom I did the dishes even though I didn’t really want to, and now I feel so good about doing them.” Then she cranked the music back up.”

→ When we think our kids are defying us, we get caught in a tug of war with them.

It feels like a battle of the wills. 😡 Our agenda to get the dishes done obviously trumps any agenda our child might have.

It prevents us from showing up to the situation with connection and empathy.

What if we shifted our thinking about what it means when our kids say no? Even just a tiny shift?

👉 What if we decided there is no such thing as defiance?

👉 What if we believed they had the right to disagree with us?

👉 What if we honored their opinions and dropped this idea that we need them to do everything we ask exactly when we ask it? That they always need to follow our exact timeline?

👉 What if we knew that if we want our kids to intrinsically follow our lead we’ve got to parent with connection NOT control and correction. They have to choose to follow us. What if we knew that it was our connection with them that created the best chance of them WANTING to listen to us?

Of course, there will be moments where we have to get them to do something right now, like getting in the car to go to school.

The goal is in those moments is that we have enough built-in connection that our kids are willing to listen to us — even though we don’t have time to listen to them.

No matter what happens if we adopt a new definition of what it means when our kids say “No” We can stay calm no matter what, and use any opportunity to create more connection with our children.

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Andee Martineau

Andee’s a mom of 6, reformed yeller, and the creator of Connect Method Parenting. She’s on a mission to help moms feel in control, bring the fun back into parenting, and ditch the yelling, corrections, and endless feelings of failure!

Can you imagine your kids happily listening to you, helping around the house, confiding in you, and getting along with their siblings? She’s got you covered with simple, scientifically-sound steps to do just that (that actually work. For real!)

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