The word “stop” can often be used very effectively in place of “no” or “don’t.” Don’t run into the street,” can be rephrased to “Stop at the curb and look both ways.” There are times when especially when “yes” (even with a qualifier) may not be an option. When you must deny or prohibit a specific request, provide two options—and only two options at a time—because you only have two brain hemispheres. If you give the brain three or more options it tends to consider only two and drops off the rest. Here are examples.
Child: “I want to go to Disneyland right now.”
Parent: “Yes, I know you do and that would be fun. Disneyland takes planning ahead. Right now you may go swimming in the pool or invite a friend over to play (or whatever options you choose to provide).
Child: “But I want to go to Disneyland right now.”
Parent: “Yes, I know. Disneyland takes planning. Right now you may go swimming in the pool or invite a friend over to play (or whatever options you choose to provide). If you say, “You can’t go to Disneyland and I don’t want to hear any more about it,” a picture of Disneyland moved into working memory and the brain wants it even more. If you provide two “right now” options, those will go into working memory and the brain will start thinking about one of them.
You: “I want a bowl of ice cream right now. I know you do and I remember that it tasted good in the past. Right now I choose to have either an apple or a fruit smoothie. Both taste good and are healthy choices. I’ll choose the fruit smoothie.” If you say, “You can’t have ice cream,” a picture of ice cream goes into working memory and your brain fixates on that. When you say, “I am having an apple or a fruit smoothie,” those pictures go into working memory. You still need to make the decision and use willpower to follow through on the choice.