Parenting without the word “No” is incredibly hard. Worth it, though. The world is not black and/or white. It’s all grey. Yes, using the word “No” sets a hard line, however, the effect is that it leaves the child feeling helpless and a victim of the decision, not involved with why it’s a bad idea and they don’t actually learn anything.
My son was very like me and I knew that I didn’t react well to it as a child, or as an adult. And, then, he was diagnosed with Oppositional Defiance Disorder and stopping use of the word “No” was in the new parenting instructions that came with the diagnosis. I had to learn early on that it was a road fraught with emotional and intellectual hard stops for myself.
The meltdowns in the store stopped that would happen after I would tell him I wasn’t going to buy it because I stopped using the hardline in how I phrased it. I also learned from my own reactions that it was a poor choice to tell him that he was forbidden from doing something or that he couldn’t do something he wanted to. My lesson from that mirror was to explain why they were bad ideas and how I wouldn’t support those efforts.
As a child and as an adult, I view it as institutionalized violence to children to demand they submit unquestioningly to something without it being a dire emergency. Don’t teach your children to be powerless when confronted with obstacles. Teach them to look into why and make their own decisions about what they accept about the world around them.
To state clearly, I’m not saying stop parenting your child, I’m saying stop being lazy and demanding subservience to the young mind you are trying to feed and grow. Explain why, don’t demand acceptance based on your will.