I know I only have one child, but I’ve babysat and taught dozens of children, and I grew up taking care of my two sisters while my parents worked. I even homeschooled one of them, and I studied child psych in my education classes. So while I’m not an expert on paper, I do have a lot of experience—and in my experience, the former problem often normalizes when you take care of the latter. And taking care of the latter is easy: Just start saying yes. Or, at least, avoid saying no.
You might think this is very difficult, but it gets really easy, really fast! When my daughter asks for something at the store we can’t afford, I ask her how she could get it. Usually the answer is adding it to her wish list for holidays, though sometimes she’ll come up with clever ways. We haven’t had our own garage sale yet, but she wants to, and as soon as we have enough junk (we’re always giving it away instead!), we’ll do just that. When she asks to run, I say sure—outside. When she asks to play a game while I’m cooking or working, I say of course—after I finish this task. I also hold her to reminding me, as sometimes after I’m finished with what I am doing she is onto something else already, like building a fort or sculpture or something else she doesn’t need me for.
Just try it. As an experiment, see how many nos you can turn into yeses. Can’t go to the park because it’s raining? Schedule a park day for later in the week when it’s warmer. No ice cream today? Have ice cream before dinner on payday! Even if it’s something wild—like wanting to blow something up—you could say how about we do a Mentos experiment instead? (I’ll bet your kids will be amazed at how messy you’re willing to get!) Once your child hears fewer no’s from you, he or she might say the word less him or herself. And if he or she continues, deal with it calmly and with a good dose of humor—that usually works for me!