Pretty pretty please?!
Your munchkin learned the magic word a long time ago, but lately she’s got it in her head that saying it means you automatically have to comply. And of course she’s mastered the adorable eyelash-batting that most two year-olds know can win anybody over. So, now that she’s turned into little Ms. Manners, how exactly do you go about breaking her heart?
Say no… with a cherry on top.
A local mom recently asked me this question, and I was surprised to discover that I’ve never written about the art of saying no nicely. This blog post came close, but still… no cigar. As with most things, the key to a good refusal is in the delivery. The next time you’re in this situation, try:
- Show you’re listening. Don’t interrupt, make eye contact, and respond with something positive like “That’s a really nice way to ask and if it was a good time to eat a cookie I would definitely give you one because you asked so nicely!”
- Give an honest explanation for why you’re saying no to your monkey/darling/neighbour. For example, “We only eat treats after we’ve finished our dinner, so unfortunately we can’t eat cookies right now.” Note that this explanation has to be legit, so “Because I said so,” doesn’t cut it. Also note that the explanation has to make sense, and if you’re munching away on your own treats you’ll have some further explaining to do!
- Let her know when you WILL be able to say yes, as in “Remind me again when you’ve finished all your dinner and I’ll be happy to give you a cookie.” Not only does this give her hope because ‘try again later’ is far better than a flat out ‘no’, but chances are she’ll forget about her request if it wasn’t really important. Treats likely won’t fall into this ‘easily forgotten’ category, but the toy her brother just started playing with that she suddenly can’t live without? Yup, that’ll be forgotten.
- Be prepared for a meltdown. And respond appropriately (read this and this for more help with that). Your munchkin will be far less likely to tantrum it out if you consistently show you’re listening and give logical explanations, building up that trust factor. For realz!
Responding positively and genuinely makes all the difference when you want to let someone down easy. The more you say no, the less guilty you’ll feel, and the easier it’ll be to put your foot down when it comes to other people’s requests. Which means, you might actually get a chance to put your feet up for a change… sweet.
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