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Early Intervention Speech Therapy

The Benefits of "NO"

Published November 12, 2013 8:00 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling

The past two weeks I wrote posts offering "Tips on Managing Behavior" when working in therapy with children and for the parents reading these posts for you to use at home!

As you skim the 7 tips listed and described, notice none tell you to simply manage behaviors by telling the child "no."  Although this is a strategy many of us often use ... "no more ice cream," "no hitting!" and "no talking back!" there are parents and professionals who do not support the use of the word "no." They feel that adults may be limiting a child, holding them back from their true potential and harming their confidence and fragile self-esteem by saying "no."  I strongly disagree.

Now, before I continue I would like to add that saying "no" all the time to everything is definitely not healthy either. Letting the negative rule your discourse, parenting and teaching will not be effective and I do believe that over time, it will become damaging. That being said, I believe balance and good judgment are crucial when shaping a little one's behavior.

There are times when NO and STOP are the best and most appropriate and loving responses. For example, if a child is in danger or is engaging in something that could hurt them or someone else, then you need to tell them "NO, this is not ok." I believe that sometimes things are ok and sometimes they are not and it is our job as parents and as educators to teach children the difference. To me, this is a loving response and the way we help children grow into responsible older children and eventually teenagers and adults. Being overly permissive and never setting boundaries and restrictions causes confusion and a blurred line of appropriate versus inappropriate.

If children do not have a barometer of right from wrong, how can you expect them to grow up and make wise decisions for themselves? Fast forward to when your toddler is in middle school and offered drugs and alcohol. Do you still want them to think anything goes and be unfamiliar with the word NO? If they never hear "NO," how will they know when to tell someone else "NO"? How will they know that something is dangerous and that there may be negative, even life-changing repercussions for dangerous decisions and behavior? I believe it is our job as adults to keep children safe and by telling them yes when it's appropriate and no when it's appropriate, you are teaching them healthy boundaries, love for self and others and smart decision-making!

What do you think about telling children "NO" when you feel it is appropriate?

Please share your thoughts!

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1 comments

ABSOLUTELY! I work with this population as well, and have young children. I really disagree with the culture of not setting boundaries and allowing kids to rule the house. I think saying no and not now to children allows them to appreciate and respect rules.  Just say NO!

Ruth Dougher, Early intervention - Speech Language Pathologist, Hartford School district November 12, 2013 12:28 PM
White River Jct VT

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About this Blog


    Stephanie Bruno Dowling, M.S. CCC-SLP
    Occupation: Speech-Language Pathologist
    Setting: Early Intervention in Delaware County, PA
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