Teaching Children to Accept a No for an Answer

Give your children everything they want and they'll grow up to be intolerant and easily frustrated and won't know how to deal with hardships.
Teaching Children to Accept a No for an Answer
Elena Sanz Martín

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz Martín.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

We all know the sad feeling that comes with not being able to reach our goals or if things don’t go our way. If adults have a hard time dealing with that, just think what happens to children. Teaching children to accept a no for an answer will help them later on in their lives.

Intolerant children won't take a no for an answer.

Low-frustration tolerance

Low-frustration tolerance is a key concept when teaching children to accept a no for an answer. Frustration is like a cluster of feelings of sadness, disappointment and the disillusionment that comes with not getting what you want. Why do some people deal better with these emotions? Mainly, because of their past experiences.

Starting from childhood, you start facing problems using the tools you learned from your parents. If your parents don’t give you the right tools, you won’t know how to deal with these issues.

Children with low-frustration tolerance haven’t been set with clear and concise rules in life. They’ve always had whatever they wanted almost immediately, they haven’t had any failures or limitations.

Deep down, these are insecure children with low self-esteem, because you need to face hardships to form a positive self-image of yourself.

Children with low-frustration tolerance

  • Find it difficult to control their emotions.
  • Are impatient and impulsive.
  • Can show unusual anxiety for their age, especially in conflictive situations.
  • Are self-centered, they think the world revolves around them and that they deserve everything. They think boundaries are unfair.
  • Are demanding and want to satisfy their needs immediately. If not, they’ll throw a tantrum.
  • Are stiff and inflexible. They find it difficult to adapt to change.
Teaching Children to Accept a No for an Answer

Teaching children to accept a no for an answer

Don’t overindulge

Even with the best of intentions at heart, many parents try to keep their children away from any form of disappointment, frustration or pain. They think they’ll have enough time to suffer once they’re adults, and that they should enjoy their childhood as much as possible.

Thus, they try to solve any little problem or issue their children might have. They carry their backpacks, do their homework, and give them everything they want.

However, keep in mind that your child will eventually grow up and you won’t be there forever. The best you can do is teach them how to accept a no for an answer; teach them how to deal with their frustration and to see it as a part of life’s processes.

If you’re always there to fix everything for them, they won’t know how to deal with the hardships to come.

Encourage their autonomy and teach them to accept a no for an answer

Through our own experiences, we start shaping our own self. Therefore, try to encourage their autonomy in every chore that’s right for their age.

Children who have faced challenges from a young age and have known how to deal with them, will have better problem-solving skills. They’ll also have a better concept of themselves and enough confidence to manage their own issues.

Teach them not to feel afraid of failure

Sometimes, the hardest part in accepting a no for an answer is when you didn’t get what you hoped to get, or feeling like a failure. Children need to see that mistakes are part of every learning curve and to not be afraid to try things.

Teaching Children to Accept a No for an Answer

Don’t give in to their tantrums

Teaching children to accept a no for an answer will be the greatest gift you give them. Don’t give up if they don’t accept it at first, no matter if they yell and shout. Of course, don’t give in, don’t reinforce that behavior. This is their way to express their frustrations and with time they’ll learn how to better express themselves.

Talk with your children to teach them how to accept a no for an answer

When you deny them something, it shouldn’t be because you say so. Talk to them, explain to them why they can’t always get what they want. You might think they won’t understand, but they’ll realize their parents are making an effort and are calm and caring too.

Besides, saying no, followed by a reason, will always be so much better and easier to accept for them. They won’t hold a grudge against you.


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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.