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5 Phrases That Will INSTANTLY Make Your Kids Stop Begging

This article originally appeared on YourTango. By Heather Steiger.5 brilliant solutions!

Take back control!

I was in the grocery store last week, listening to a multitude of beeps from scanners, when a new sound caught my ears. It was a kid, a preschooler, whining and begging for one of those baby bottle suckers with the sugar inside. She wanted the cherry flavor.

“Mommy, can I have this?” the little girl asked.

“No, honey,” the mother smiled.

“But mom, I don’t have one.”

“We have plenty of sweets at home,” the mom reminded.

“But I don’t have this one.”

“I said no,” the mother replied, while looking through an entertainment magazine.

With having no luck breaking her mother down with verbal whining, the little girl upped her ante. Her face turned red and words about unfairness and meanness erupted from her mouth.

And then her next strategy: crying. In between her cries and words, she delivered gasps of air, purely for effect.

“Just put it in the cart,” the mom replied. “But you can’t have it until after dinner.”

“Can I just have one bite in the car?” the little girl asked.

“We’ll talk about it when we get in the car.”

The little girl’s tears turned to smiles within less than one minute of her setting eyes on what she wanted.

Now, I’m far from a perfect parent, but I cringed knowing what this mother had just traded. Basically her soul. She traded a nasty temper tantrum for a life of bargaining between her and her little sweet pea. And the sad thing is, it doesn’t have to be that way, nor should it.

I wanted to hand the mom a laminated card with these five fail-proof sayings burned into the paper. They’ve worked for me for years and remind me of chocolate. Every single one of them is good and I pick which “flavor” depending on my mood.

Next time your mini cross-examiner is giving you the run-down, take charge, be a mom, and above all, be consistent.

If you say no, you better mean it. By changing your mind, your child has gained more than a piece of candy; they’ve gained the knowledge you can be broken down easier than a cardboard box.

Have fun practicing these phrases with your little whiner:

  1. “Asked and answered.”

This is the mother lode of all chocolates. Although I use the four below, I use this one 10 more times then I use anything else. Let’s replay the scenario from above.

Child: “Mommy, can I have this?”

Mother: “No, honey.”

Child: “But mom, I don’t have one.”

Mother: “Asked and answered.”

Child: “You never get me anything.”

Mother: “Asked and answered.”

If the child keeps at it, you become a robot, saying the same three most blissful words over and over and over again.

  1. “I’m done discussing this.”

Child: “Can Ashlyn spend the night?”

Mother: “No, she just spent the night here last week.”

Child: “Please?”

Mother: “I’m not discussing this again.”

Child: “But …”

Then, from the mother, all action, no words. Smile pleasantly, tilt your head to the right, give the best devil eyes you can, and then simply walk away.

  1. “This conversation is over.”

Child: “Can I ride my bike?”

Mother: “No, it’s raining outside.”

Child: “But I’ll wear my rain coat and it’s only sprinkling.”

Mother: “This conversation is over.”

Child: “But pleeeasssee?”

Mother: “Asked and answered.”

Become your usual robotic self. Remember, you’re a rock.

  1. “Don’t bring it up again.”

Child: “I want these shoes.”

Mother: “No, those cost too much.”

Child: “But I don’t like those.”

Mother: “You’re getting the shoes in the cart and that’s final. Don’t bring it up again.”

Child: “I need them!”

Mother: “You brought it up again. There went your dessert for tonight.”

Yes, you’re going to get more crying with that response, but remember: getting your child to understand you mean business is a marathon, not a sprint.

  1. “The decision has been made. If you ask again there will be a consequence.”

Child: “Can I watch the iPad?”

Mother: “No, you know you’re not allowed having technology at the table.”

Child: “I won’t get food on it.”

Mother: “The decision has been made. If you ask again there will be a consequence.”

Child: “But I promise!”

Mother: “I told you not to bring it up again. No iPad for the rest of the day.”

Prepare for a few tantrums until your child learns they’re not going to get anywhere. This is part of their normal testing stage.

Your child will eventually realize nothing changes your mind. This is how you will earn your child’s respect and set up a relationship where your child accepts your decisions the first time.

Don’t forget: their best friend, Timeout, is only a few short steps away.

Here’s a success story: After years of using these phrases with my 4-year-old, I’m reaping the benefits everyday with no tears or fighting back.

Here’s the conversation I had with my daughter, Charlotte, while writing this article.

Charlotte: “Can I have a cookie?”

Me: “Yes, you may have one.”

Charlotte: “Can I have three?”

Me: “This conversation is over.”

Charlotte: “OK, I’ll just break it in half so I can have two.”

Sure, I see some passive-aggressiveness in that last comment, but I still won the battle. She happily ate her one cookie and I happily continued typing at my computer.

You can have these blissful conversations, too. Laminate a card or start memorizing, but trust me, they’re almost better than chocolate.


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Comments (36)

  1. Pingback: KinderPerfect is the New 'Cards Against Humanity' but for Parents (You WANT This!) - TodaysMama

  2. Elaine 05/17/2017 at 6:43 pm

    How do you keep your four-year-old the same age “for years”? You said you used these tactics for years…just curious. I think your tactics are a bit harsh, but headed in the right direction.

  3. Ron 05/16/2017 at 8:58 am

    This is basically the same as I used in 80’s, and my parents used on my brother and I in 50’s. History is repeating itself when learned. And food does work if done correctly. I assure you it had no bad effect on my brother or I or our sons, all well behaved, no eating problems, nothing. The wife and I got multiple compliments on our sons.

  4. Erin 03/26/2017 at 12:08 pm

    These are great strategies. That being said, you should never reward or threaten with food. As a dietitian, I know this sets kids up for a poor relationship with food long term.

    • Darlene 04/02/2017 at 10:13 pm

      I totally agree with you. I am a psychotherapist and have seen children develop eating disorders resulting from parents taking desserts away as a form of discipline.

  5. Stephanie 03/26/2017 at 10:12 am

    I learned from my host-dad as an au pair.
    Kid:”Can I have cookies for dessert?”
    Dad:”Yes, you can have one cookie.”
    Kid:”How about two?”
    Dad:”How about zero?”
    Kid: …
    Kid:”Okay, I’ll eat one cookie.”


  6. Vicki 03/25/2017 at 10:38 pm

    Mine was “This is not a negotiation” and “Is my answer going to change?”. Stand firm, it is worth it in the long run.

  7. Shilpa 07/12/2016 at 6:30 pm

    My son is 4 years old & he is stubborn. If I say something like “no”, or “not now”, he will through trantrums sometimes start hitting. Or he will go to daddy and get things done from him. How can I make him understand about this.

  8. Rhonda 06/17/2016 at 1:19 pm

    I LOVE THIS ARTICLE! I am making my own placards and will be handing them out to my representatives and senators in my state to use against the republicans so we can get the budget passed.

  9. Michaela McCoin 05/31/2016 at 6:55 pm

    Amazing to me that so many are willing to admit that they believe that “no means no” is bad for kids. Now I understand what is going wrong in our culture.

    Kids who know healthy boundaries and can trust strong, consistent parents = happy kids!

  10. Mamato4 05/31/2016 at 2:00 am

    I really enjoyed this article. Our 6-yr-old surprised us all one night in the midst of a discussion with one of our other kids about having more of something after we said no. He said, “You get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit!” We use that one now, too. Thank you for these ideas.

  11. Mom to 5 05/31/2016 at 1:46 am

    This isn’t “bullying” it’s parenting.
    Before you can teach a child to be a “critical thinker” they have to learn how to mind and be respectful.

    If more children learned to accept “NO” as an answer, perhaps they wouldn’t be falling into exhibits at the zoo.

  12. Sera Hausenbacker 05/22/2016 at 12:05 pm

    I was shocked at your advice. It reminded me of Babywise and Childwise philosophy. Children being seen and NOT heard has been debunked as instilling rebellion and low self worth.
    I hope you read what you wrote and see this from your inner child’s emotional and young mind.
    You want a relationship with your child, being so black and white is no way to teach them how to make the right decisions.
    If he goes out while raining, he may just turn around and come back in, because he thought better of his original decision.
    It doesn’t seem like you are discussing 2 year olds here, which also is likely to reduce the child to nothing in her eyes, with so harsh parenting.

    • Rhonda 06/17/2016 at 1:21 pm

      Maybe your Mother should read this article!

  13. JustNo 05/19/2016 at 11:40 pm

    This is cold, bullying, threatening parenting. I have two children 10 and 15yrs and I agree that kids need boundaries and to know that parents are in charge, for a number of reasons but the advice you’re giving is destructive and will hurt your children. Please think about doing some reading to teach you kinder alternatives to achieve your goals.

  14. Adrian 05/17/2016 at 1:16 pm

    Wow.!!! This is garbage.!
    I talk to my kids, we have a wonderful relationship, and they respect the answer because I take the time to explain it my reasons in simple terms.
    This article is bad advice.

  15. Embarrassed for You 05/16/2016 at 3:00 pm

    “Devil Eyes” at your child? Maybe you should have thought harder about breeding before you realized it infringed so much on your computer time. Disgusting. You train your child like a dog, and you think you’re a good parent.

  16. Ali 05/16/2016 at 10:37 am

    I find simple a no and sticking to it works. Using other words are no going to stall a tantrum, but being consistent and creating clear boundaries will.

    I find most of these phrases disrespectful – your children learn by watching you and you will hear back ALL of those clever sayings.

    If you simply say no and stick to it without aggressive – asked and answered ( if any adult said that to you , you would be offended) or I’m done discussing this ( watch this one return to haunt you) etc…

    • Embarrassed for You 05/16/2016 at 3:01 pm

      Yeah, can’t wait until their child turns 10, is asked to come to dinner, says no and when mom protests they reply “Asked and answered.”

  17. fre 05/15/2016 at 4:49 am

    fock authority!

  18. Jenna 05/05/2016 at 10:14 am

    No is good enough anything else invites more whining.

  19. Hope 04/24/2016 at 2:36 pm

    How about just a no. My kids know when I say no, I mean it.

  20. Anne 04/24/2016 at 2:09 pm

    I only had one child ask for things like this and I stopped it by going to the area of the store first of where she had issues. For us it was the cereal isle. If she did not accept the two boxes she could pick out and started the temper tantrum we left- I shopped later. Only had to do this twice and she got it. The other children that came along she told them don’t ask for stuff or we have to leave the store.

    • Shawna 07/06/2016 at 1:01 pm

      Good. No kid wants to be dragged along to the store anyway and I certainly don’t want to hear your kid screaming when they don’t get their way!

  21. Kaela 04/24/2016 at 12:55 pm

    Might I also add that her being passive aggressive is not really what you want. What you want is her to understand your decision. What you’ve created is a win-lose scenario. You want it to be win-win. She may end up being passive aggressive with others because she isn’t being taught that her voice and opinion matters. This is going to create a person that gets walked all over because she’s learned not to express herself. I know it can be difficult to reason with a child but they do catch on. They are smarter than we know.

    • Kate 05/16/2017 at 5:49 am

      Perfect … i think we should make everykid think they are a winner all the time…. because in life you will never face disapointment so you dont need to learn how to cope with not getting your way you just need your mommy to word things so you feel like you are a winner… hows that for a win-win

  22. Kaela 04/24/2016 at 12:50 pm

    I don’t agree with this. You want your child to want to communicate with you. They also need reasoning behind it. My 4 year old can understand reasoning if I take the time to explain. This will just cause less communication and your child will sneak those cookies instead of asking. You also want to teach your child that you are willing to listen to them and respect them as a human. My advice? If your child wants something and you say, ‘no.’ Tell them why. Then listen to what they have to say and then say, ‘I hear what you are saying, you want blank…However, I have already given you an answer.’ Then if they don’t stop whining about it, timeout is where they go.

    • Pieter 05/04/2016 at 5:18 am

      Kaela, I 100% agree with you. You want your child to negotiate and reason when they are grown up, so they need to lean from young.
      My 9yo has never thrown a tantrum since she could speak. She understands reason and accepts it off it’s valid.
      Imagine your boss say that you cannot do something you think is good, and there is no reasoning with him, just a “This conversation is over.” That is how that child feels.

  23. Adriana 04/24/2016 at 9:52 am

    Not sure about this… I might be missing something, to me it sound authoritarian which is not the ideal, authoritative is found to be best

  24. DJ 04/23/2016 at 3:01 am

    You teach your kids that you won’t listen to them and are not up for reasoning, not to ask you and not to try to pass the limits. Do you want to teach them to be followers or individuals with their own will and character?

    • M 04/23/2016 at 6:08 am

      This is one of the reasons i could never practice this with my 4 yo. If he asks something and I say no, he gets a chance to convince me to say yes. He may have a good argument or he may want to do something in return for that thing.

  25. Meg Olsen 04/22/2016 at 5:16 pm

    Well, these are cut-and-dry phrases, and if you continue to use them, your kids will know they can’t manipulate you in the future. However, I would add that it’s important to make critical thinkers and to help them communicate thru their relationships as well. Ask your children, “Why don’t we buy treats from the checkout aisle?” “Why do you get one cookie and not three.” “Do you understand why we’re not riding our bikes right now?” Listen to what they say. What is their perspective on why they’re not getting what they want (they may have some fanciful idea about why you say no). Help them to talk through and think about why you have family rules and why we say “no”. Again I think it’s important to let your words have meaning and to follow thru with the consequences of disobedience, but I also think it’s about relationship, and helping them ask for what they want, in the right time, as well as delaying their instant gratification.

  26. Marianne 04/22/2016 at 5:20 am

    This is good for +4 years old, but what about 2 years old kids? I guess it’s harder to use this technique with them.. Need some help

    • Beth 04/22/2016 at 5:52 am

      You do the same with a 2 year old but fewer words. I started with my son when he was 2. Teaching them consequences is essential. You have to be willing to follow through with what limit you place. The first few times will be tough, but once they know you won’t cave and they will not get their way it becomes so much easier.

    • 20 04/22/2016 at 6:14 am

      I pratice using this with my little daughter at 18 months. .. it really work beautifully. No whining since then. .and she is turning 8yrs old next month.

    • Embarrassed for You 05/16/2016 at 3:05 pm

      Actually, the approach in this article is better for 2 year olds. By the time they have reached 4+, they have started reasoning. You need a “conversation” with your child so they can learn these skills at home. The poster of this article is going to have an emotionally stunted child who does not know how to communicate their wants/needs, instead looking to have their life dictated by another.