How to negotiate with “I don’t want”. A short course for parents and grandparents

The fear of making a mistake is the door that locks us in the castle of mediocrity – Paolo Coelho


“We don’t know what to do with him! He is only three years old. But he has only one answer to any and all questions, “I do not want!”
The woman sighed and, after a pause, added, “We have tried both positive approaches and other ways…”
“What do you mean, other ways? I asked.
“Well, this is when we send him to the corner or take away TV privileges. You know, punishments, nothing out of the ordinary…
The woman looked at me with a tired smile and said, “This question is not unusual, right?”


Yes, this is a common question in my practice and I am often worked with parents to help. I hope these experiences with “I don’t want!” will help you find your path if your child manifests, “I don’t want!”.

This article may also be important for grandparents who, although having rich and wise life experiences to share with their children and grandchildren, are confronted with, “I don’t want!”

Why does “I don’t want!” appear?

Development is the path to knowledge. When a child wants to explore a puddle, to touch a lamp, to try finding a new path, the first instinctive reaction of parents is to flinch and say, “Stop!”, “No!” “Don’t!”.
But the more we try and control our children, the more resistance we get from them.
“But it is dangerous!”, you might say.
– Yes, it is… It is not the danger, but in how a parent reacts to it.
If you are faced with frequent “I don’t want!” from your child – you should be congratulated! Your child is growing and becoming a person who wants their personality to shine brightly.
What are the causes for this strong reaction from your child?  What can be improved?  How can you support the growth of a happy relationship with your child?

“I don’t want!” is the desire of your child to assert their boundaries and show their independence.  It is your child’s reaction to having their identity stifled.

Why is it very important to pay attention to your child’s, “I don’t want!”

 “I don’t want!” manifests itself differently at 1+, at 16+, and at 30+.  When I hear the response, “Oh, but my child is already …” I, again and again, answer: “Parental relationships with children are always joint development and improvement, and each one goes their own way and at their own speed.”  That is why it is so important to empower your child’s individuality and support the harmonious building of the relationship. Now is the best time to improve.

Suppression of a child’s personality creates:
– uncertainty, the habit of seeking approval, permission from
– aggression, the desire to assert oneself at the expense of the younger, weaker
– the desire to prove himself externally: in clothing, behavior
– the habit of manipulating others
– depression, lack of motivation for self-realization.

These are just some of the manifestations of personality suppression.
You can see such manifestations in children at different ages, including adulthood. It all starts in their childhood …

About fears and limitations

If you want your child to grow up with a strong and independent personality, you need to learn to see your fears. Fear for a child creates limitations in our lives and theirs. Most opportunities remain unrealized because they need the courage to implement them.
With our fear, we parents, even with best of intentions, deprive ourselves and our children of the courage to try.
“But the mug is really hot!” – you may say.
Yes, it is. I can’t give you ready-made recipes as each of you will have your own words and actions. However, they will have these attributes:

– always communicate to your child with positive emotions
– always arrive at a consensus decision that empowers your child

Fear creates restrictions. Fear creates limitations.
Feelings-Thinking-Action-Result.

How to negotiate with yourself

In order to support the development of a child’s personality, and be comfortable for their safety, it’s important to learn how to negotiate with, “I don’t want!”…

Family is a constant development and improvement dance between child and parent. Recognizing this, it is worth learning to negotiate, first of all … with yourself … It is important for you to see what prevents you from negotiating with, “I don’t want!”.

“What!  I need to agree with myself ?!” – you may be saying in surprise.
Yes. It is. Their reaction “I don’t want!” – is a response to your action – a restriction or limitation. We can share only what we have within… Therefore, in order to remove restrictions from your child – you need to remove restrictions from yourself.  This means agreeing with yourself.

Two “Respect Rules” will help you remove restrictions you have imposed on yourself.

  • Rule 1
    I respect my child’s personality and appreciate their developmental path and desire to explore.
  • Rule 2
    I respect myself, value my parental qualities and want to improve my ability to share my wisdom.

These two Rules will help you develop the habit of not creating restrictions and finding those words and actions that create a relationship of trust and wise sharing of your experience with your child, based on mutual respect.

For example, even after you have said, “Don’t touch, it’s hot!” you can add, “Let’s carefully try … Feel …” Show how you can first test, by gently touching the mug with one finger, “Wow! It’s really hot! Want to try?”

“I don’t want” is a reaction to your result – limitations. To remove restrictions – agree with yourself.

Learn to ask the question “Why?”

When you ask the question “Why,” you develop the habit of being conscious of your action. When you fear, ask yourself the question “Why do I need this fear?”

Take a piece of paper. Write out the fears you have for your child. Opposite your fears add your usual words and actions. Next, write how you can improve your words and actions. This practice develops your awareness of your own behavior.

The skill of asking yourself the question “Why,” will support your ability to negotiate with yourself and will become the basis for how you respond to “I don’t want!.  Asking “why” will also empower you holistically.  Isn’t asking “Why?” better than blindly following the answer to “Why” from other people or institutions?

Asking “Why?” is the foundation for the position of the Master – one who creates their own life. Read more about the Master’s position and why it is important to share this skill with your children in the article “How to Help Your Child Be Successful and Happy.”

And yet . . . how to accept “bad behavior”?

I am asked, “This all makes sense, but if I continue to hear “I do not want!”, “I will not!” every day, all of the time, what can we do about it right now?” Circumstances, and the child in question, will be very different.

Age and situation will have much to say about what options you have.  However, there are three concepts that, once you have accepted the two Rules, can be applied to improve your relationship with your child that continues, “I don’t want”.

  1. Accept that all that happens is a process. What you are facing is a result.
  2. Accept yourself as the parent “you are the best parent who is in the world, and it is you who your child needs you to be”
  3. Accept that the best result is always the path of continuous action.

When we get rid of our fears, we create a relationship with our child based on trust, freedom of choice, and responsibility for our actions.

This relationship framework will help you and your child see their worth and self-realization potential, regardless of how old you or your child are.

For example, in response to the next “I don’t want!” as you hold out a hat for your child to wear, ask them, “What do you want?”  Not getting an answer, explain that you want them to wear a hat because it is cold outside. Continue, “But if you don’t want the hat I am offering you – let’s work something out together?” Still getting resistance or no cooperation?    Ask, “Maybe you know what is best for you?”

Let’s summarize

– “I don’t want!” Is a child’s reaction to your restriction of his freedom.
– It is important to improve your relationship with your child recognizing that a strong personality is formed on the basis of knowledge and freedom of choice.
– By removing fears and limitations in yourself, you help your child to not create them.
– By developing the ability to ask, and answer, the question “Why?” , you develop conscious actions rather than reactions.
– You can share with your child only what is within you.
– The foundation of your ability to successfully negotiate with your child is an awareness of the value of their personality.

More . . .

When we develop conscious parental actions, we help develop consciousness of actions in our children. We can only share what we have within ourselves.

This is the strength and beauty of consciously parenting, we are both developing and this process of positive interaction will continue throughout our lives. Family is always a mutually developing entity, ideally improving. Your task is to set an example for your child by learning to act consciously.

By improving ourselves, we help our children to improve themselves.

P.S. Behind every line of this article is personal experience, including my mother’s and grandfather’s example.  I look at my already grown sons and daughter, and understand that behind each success they had an example … My path of development has been conscious motherhood, joint development, and improvement. It continues to this day even though my children and I live in different hemispheres of our Earth.

At first, it was, “how deep is this puddle?” and “how hot can this mug really be?” then the questions developed and became more complex. While I am writing this article, a text message came from my eldest son, who had just realized a dream, and had flown a two-seater plane for the first time. My youngest son jumped from an airplane with a parachute on his 18th birthday. Hmm … my first reaction was What!!!!! … Our brains are always ready to provide us with a menu of “fears” and “limitations”.

We live in a world where there are many other fears that somehow concern us. When we develop a conscious relationship with our child, we immunize them from fear by helping them grow up with strong and courageous personalities.

Do you really want your child to respond to you, “Yes, of course!” or, ” I will always do as you say!” or, “Anything you say!”?  Never asking why and never taking initiative?

Today, even with the best of intentions, if you don’t consciously parent, you are setting limits. What about tomorrow? Therefore, congratulations! Your “I don’t want!” child is wonderful!

I am finishing with a few lines from my novel “Golden Palace, Way of the Ruler “

I ask you as a mother. What do you want for your son? Do you want him to stay at your feet and never become an eagle? If your fear interferes with the path of your child, you will break his strength. This is the power he will need to go through all the trials that he will face.”

Do it! With love, with pride in yourself and your child! With respect for your child and understanding of the value of the individual within each of us!

With love, Olga Verasen

Dear Parents! The first issue of the monthly magazine for parents will be released. Read more about it here.