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How to Say 'No' to Kids, Nicely

If your children whine or nag to convince you to give them what they want, here are some tips on how to bring the parental cone of silence down on them.

The advice is especially timely in light of a new survey that finds 55 percent of 12- and 13-year olds can get their parents to give in to nagging.

The survey, by the Center for a New American Dream, says children learn the nagging habit early in life and it's the result of parents putting children at the center of household attention.

Another finding of the survey is that children nag and whine for their parents to buy something because they feel peer pressure to have the latest products. More than 50 percent of the children in the survey said having these products makes them feel accepted by their peers, which makes them feel better about themselves.

Jody Johnston Pawel, author of The Parent's Toolshop: The Universal Blueprint for Building a Healthy Family, says parents need to teach their kids to look at their internal qualities and skills to determine self-worth. Parents have to teach children how to respond to peer pressure and how to gain peer approval in acceptable ways, by being friendly to everyone, for example.

Pawel offers her 10 best replies to nagging children. When children nag, parents can:

  • State a reason for refusal

  • Recognize the child's feelings but remain firm

  • Give a conditional "yes"

  • Suggest an acceptable alternative

  • Encourage the child to save money for the purchase

  • Have the child pay the extra cost for name brands

  • Let the child choose one item from the options

  • Stick to the budget. Children can get several lower-cost items or one brand name

  • Tell children they'll definitely not get the item if they ask again

  • Leave the store.

More information

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has its own list for dealing with your child.

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