That one word – NO

Kathy Krugermotherhood, mummytime, perspective, yinyang20 Comments

Oh NO!

It’s almost nine on a Monday night and I have nothing written for tomorrow, which is Tuesday and I blog on Tuesdays.

But I do have some thoughts about that one little word, and how frequently that I (and I suspect many of you) use, overuse, misuse and abuse it.


NO WAY you say (which is probably a lie, or an excuse).  It may annoy you, but I suggest you start the counter on that one word today. Even for an hour or two – see how lots of little NO’s add up. It may shock you.

Studies have reported that the average toddler hears the word NO an astonishing 400 times a day!

And we wonder why they throw it back at us with such regularity when we ask them to eat their dinner, go to bed, or whether they could possibly please NOT squish half a banana down in between the cushions of the lounge chair.

That little negative word sure has been getting some use in my household lately. At 3.5 years, Little Yang is going through an attention seeking phase (or maybe that’s since we adopted him) and the other afternoon he walked outside and simply decided to pee on the pavers. Deliberately, brazenly, to make some kind of statement that he could do as he pleased and NO-one could stop him.

Now I could (should) be grateful he walked outside. Instead I shut (locked) the sliding glass door and left him out there, bawling to get back inside (he could see me inside watching him, but I wasn’t going to let him in until he’d learned his lesson or until his father arrived home – he was due any minute). I stayed strong.

I felt a bit bad, but I think the course of action was far more effective than the few exacerbated NO’s I’d let loose at him at first.

Well I was rather proud of my punishment until the next morning when Little Yang shoved two full toilet rolls down the toilet, and proceeded to flush a few times until the water overflowed all over the bathroom, complete with his floating poo.  And Mr Yang was not due home from nightshift for half an hour – NO!!!


This time I grabbed him by the arm (just a little) hard and led him to his big sister, all the while glaring and glowering at him, before proceeding to clean up.  He got the message, if the ‘Sorry Mummy’ is anything to go by.

‘YES mate – that was naughty wasn’t it? Toilet rolls aren’t supposed to go into the toilet like that,” was my reply which positively reinforced his own remorse because for once in a while I was agreeing with him. YES!

‘NO’ starts to mean so little when it is said too much. And saying it so often means it simply becomes a habit for our kids to say it too. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and we want our kids to love us (and be sincere)!

So I’m starting to count the numbers of NO’s I let slip, because I KNOW I need to change. I better get out a calculator.

I figure the counting part will make me stop and think before I blurt and perhaps then I’ll find alternatives like: ‘in our house we do this, instead of that’, because the meaning of NO still often needs to be conveyed.

I’m trying substitutes like, ‘I know you want that now, but if you wait you can have it later’ – the negative news, with the positive chaser option when compared to a garden variety retort ‘NO’.

(For more ways to say NO without saying no try this post).

I call it creative negativity, when you add in the positive to express the negative better – (very yin yang)!

And I’m trying to use the psychology on myself – saying yes more often, at least when it comes to going after what I want when I would normally deny myself,  and trying to suspend the negative judgements that come with NO and NOT (like NO good, or NOT slim enough).


Of course sometimes we can overdo the YES’s – agreeing to do things we don’t really have time for or giving in when we really should stand our ground. Yes is not always the right answer, I just reckon that it’s right more often than NO.

And I reckon the less I find myself (unjustifiably) saying NO to myself, the less I might inflict it on my children, because negativity breeds negativity.

The other option is to use the word NO positively, as Australian’s just love to do with our language – no worries mate, no problems love, no joke.

No more – it’s now almost 10pm and I’m as good as done.

Good luck with your counting, and I’ll let you know how I go.

And please – say YES to subscribing to my newsletter – there’s a free e-book and exclusive video from me as your special gift if you SUBSCRIBE HERE.

Come on – you can’t say NO!


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Kathy KrugerThat one word – NO

20 Comments on “That one word – NO”

  1. Eleise

    I love this post, balancing yes and no’s is a conscious thing. My dear friend is doing the year of yes, to challenge herself to make the best out of her life. My daughter is a “spirited child” and no rarely worked but strong boundaries with choices in between do work. My husband likes to use reverse pyschology “I bet you can’t do this” ect. I do think rewards charts work so well too. Good luck with the toilet issue, my youngest would only poop in the garden for a while there, kind of gross!

  2. Me

    It took me many years to learn to say no – in a work situation. At home it came a lot more easily !!!!! I wish I had read this post 20 years ago instead of today – I am sure it would have changed how I parented when it counted.
    Have the best day !

  3. Lydia C. Lee

    A while back, I made a rule (in my head) that if I immediately said no to something, I had to change it to yes (within reason). It meant I ate stuff I didn’t like, or at least tried it again and did long jump and tried to hang upside down from the monkey bars. It just weirded my son out.
    As for parenting, it’s a fine line, but I’m noticing teens seem to hear yes too often, so I’m not sure if I’m on the same page entirely, but I understand your point and can see some virtues…

  4. always josefa (@always_josefa)

    No, is perhaps the most commonly used English word I would say. You pose a very interesting experiment, to count all our “no’s”
    I think for me it is about conversation, and trying to understand each side of it – hence we seem to be saying a lot less yes or no, and just talking, even if we don’t always agree on what is happening Josefa from #teamIBOT

  5. Renee Wilson

    Cute post, Kathy. It reminded me of a Jerry Seinfeld skit I heard once on how we talk to kids. I definitely say no alot of the time to my three year old when she’s getting up to mischief like little Yang. I also say no alot when I’m asked out to socialise. Very interesting. I might just count how many nos I say tomorrow!

    1. Kathy Kruger

      It is really hard isn’t it Renee as NO is often such an automatic response – it feels easy when we are tired and busy to say no to our kids and try and end the issue there, or no to making an effort to socialise.

  6. Alicia

    I find I am saying ‘No’ quite a bit, and yes it does come back at me with some forceness attached at times. I have had to get creative because the ‘No’s’ have led to more whining and I have had to do more explaining, without losing my marbles or cool 🙂
    It really depends what it is, I am having some success with explaining slowly what needs to happen before they will get a yes.

    1. Kathy Kruger

      I think you’re right Alicia in that NO’s often just up the whinging and whining – great idea bout explaining the steps needing to be taken to get a YES – I don’t do this enough.

  7. becc03

    It is funny, I was thinking about the word no the other day. I had picked up on my own habit of saying no, no, no!
    We also have been going through the same little problem. Peeing in the toilet brush container (because it was there), putting toilet rolls down the toilet (because he could) and putting toilet paper down the sink hole (because he was making a magic potion!).
    We must be on same funny wavelength here, parallel lives maybe?

  8. EssentiallyJess

    I think too we often say no without thinking, and really the answer could be yes. I find that I do that a lot and really need to be more mindful on how I use the word.
    And for what it’s worth, I think ‘no worries’ is one of my favourite sayings 🙂

  9. NewLifeOnTheRoad (@NewLifeOnRoad)

    I so say it far too much! Yet lately I have been saying Yes and I feel better for it 🙂
    And I think that chidren need to learn both words, yes and no!! But like you say, negativity leads to negative behavour.
    Which I am learning the hard way with my 14 year old who is really testing the boundaries at the moment, and I am trying to find a way to deal with it in a nicer way than I have been before 🙂
    And yeah the Toilet Paper issue – my sons have done that, but they only ever did it once after they had to clean it up!!

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