Peel Montessori | Your Child Will Thank You For Saying ‘No’! | Peel Montessori
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Your Child Will Thank You For Saying ‘No’!

It is not easy being a parent. It is an overworked and underpaid position that has long hours and no sick days; however, the benefits far outweigh the late nights and early mornings. The joy of being a parent is the ability to love unconditionally and to cherish and guide your child as best as you can. As a parent, you are your child’s first and foremost teacher and the development of behaviour and values begins at home.


A common comment made by parents is either, “I’m always saying no to my child” or “I don’t know how to say no to my child.” Barbara Coloroso states that there are three types of parenting styles, “Brick wall, Jellyfish, or Backbone.”


The parents who are ‘brick walls’ are always saying no, expect obedience, and have rigid rules where children are told what to think, not taught how to think. It is these children who have difficulty making decisions for themselves and who do not feel that they, or their ideas, are valued or respected.


Parents who are ‘jellyfish’ are either too concerned with themselves to put forth the time to parent their child (personal issues, mental issues), or they disregard implementing any guidelines or routines for their child whatsoever. These parents cannot say, “No”. These children are not taught consistency, consequences for their behaviors, limits, rules, or routines, which are skills essential to function in school and society. It is these children who feel like they are not valued individuals and have no self-worth.


The last parenting style which falls between ‘Brick Wall and Jellyfish” is the ‘Backbone’ parenting style. These parents know and instill the ‘Six Critical Life Messages’ into their child:

  • I believe in you
  • I trust you
  • I know you can handle it
  • You are listened to
  • You are cared for
  • You are important to me


Parenting Style



Rather than having children feel that their voices and opinions are not respected, a backbone parent will allow children to make age appropriate decisions which will not hurt them, and actually empower them, make them independent, and help them think for themselves. What these parents understand is that children will make mistakes, but as long as they are safe, they can learn from their mistakes, since there is no true long-lasting harm. This does not mean that a parent with a backbone doesn’t say ‘no’, but when they do it’s because they care for their child and saying ‘no’ is for their safety, well-being, and because you care about them. These parents often use alternatives to ‘no’ such as ‘Yes, later’ ( “yes, you may play video games, later”), ‘Give me a minute’ (allows you time to gather your thoughts to ponder your answer so you don’t just answer ‘no’), and ‘Convince me’ (if they want the responsibility to do something, have them verbalize their reasons). There are even times when a child needs you to say no to things they are asking because they do not want to do it, but perhaps their peers are pressuring them. This is a time when parents use their knowledge of their child to make a decision.


In many ways, a Montessori teacher is the parent with a ‘backbone’ and the Montessori program works with similar principles to develop respectful and civil individuals who are independent, critical thinkers and caring towards others. The Montessori teacher empowers each and every student to believe and trust him or herself and imparts those ‘Six Critical Life Messages’ to every child, in different ways. The ability for a Montessori child to make choices contributes to the notion that they are trusted to make age-appropriate decisions and they are always guided and cared for by their class community. Montessori teachers use alternate phrases to ‘no’, and like a backbone parent, when no is used, it is because they care for that child enough to say it. While a child may not thank you when they are young, with time and wisdom they will thank you for saying ‘no’ when it mattered!


To enroll in, or for a personal tour of Peel Montessori Private School, contact (905) 823-6522 or email