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The problem “My kid just won’t take ‘no’ for an answer. It drives me crazy. Why can’t he ever accept it for what it means? ‘No.’ Why is it that whenever I say ‘no,’ it triggers an endless flood of objections?” “But why not?” “You have to.” “That’s not fair.”

Why can’t you ever get begrudging acceptance?

Contrary to most opinions, the refusal to accept no is not an indication of budding character flaws. Children who object to not getting their way are not bad, they are just alive and possessed of speech. The normal response to not getting one’s way is to be upset and to try to undo the current unpleasant state of affairs.

Children today are not afraid of their parents. They do not worry about dire consequences for being a pest – there generally are none. In the old days, they would have gotten smacked. Today’s way is far superior but it requires a different strategy.

What not to do

Do not, whatever you do, lecture.

“Why can’t you accept that sometimes you’re not always going to get your way? Some day you are going to have to learn that the world does not revolve around you.”

Such impassioned speeches don’t work. All they ever do is feed their arguing.

“But you never do anything for me.”

So long as they’re getting a response from you, they will try to change your mind.

What to do

Give them your reason for refusing them. Make it brief and then listen to what they have to say. Briefly. Give them that respect. You can even change your mind. But otherwise – end the discussion. Of course that does not mean that they are going to end their discussion.

“But your reason is stupid. Why can’t you drive me to the store. There’s plenty of time.”

You do need to stop the debate. Don’t even say: “I don’t want to hear any more about it.” (Lots of luck with that one.) The truth is that any response to their objections will feed their non-acceptance.

Once you make your final decision, stick with your “no.” If you regularly follow this practice, they learn that they can fuss as much as they want, but it’s not going to get them anything. They still won’t accept the no, but they’ll stop arguing faster because they have learned that further argument is fruitless.

E-mail clinical psychologist Anthony E. Wolf your thorny questions at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Anthony E. Wolf Special to The Globe and Mail Published Thursday, Feb. 21 2013, 3:42 PM EST Last updated Thursday, Feb. 21 2013, 3:46 PM EST

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Accepting 2015 Top Choice Award

What Others are Saying About Us...

"We have sent our son Dylan to Westbrook Montessori Academy since 2009. We compared roughly 15 schools and Westbrook came on top for several reasons: 

- Superior facilities - beautiful bright, clean properly separated classrooms, safe play area on premise with a wonderful play structure 

- Superior teachers - warm, friendly teachers that both always have a smile on their face and are well liked by students 

- Superior work output from the students. We were amazed at the quality of the work that each and every student was able to produce - we were shown some of the work from a variety of students, ranging from writing to math to grammar and reading. Westbrook was able to prove the quality of their teachers through the results shown by students. 

At the end of the day, however, as parents we seek the best for our children and hope that they are well taken care of in a nurturing, learning environment as we work in our respective professions. The biggest compliment I can give is that I am absolutely certain that the quality of learning our child has experienced at Westbrook is far greater than what we could have provided for our son - even if we were not working. 

Thanks Mr. Riz!"

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We have been providing quality childcare for over 10 years!

Westbrook Montessori Academy
7227 Copenhagen Road
Mississauga, Ontario L5N 2C6, Canada
Phone :  (905) 826-4648