Every day I see kids begging for stuff (candy! toys!) or trying to avoid stuff (I don't want to eat! I don't want to leave the playground) whose whines often turn into screaming matches (the kids do the screaming) or rise to decibels this close to breaking glass. I acknowledge that all kids have bad days and that some have special needs I cannot spot, but what I find frustrating and annoying are the myriad of daily interactions I see that make me want to say, "You haven't said 'no.'" "No, you may not stay at the playground longer. No you cannot speak to (yell at) me that way. No, you may not hit me when you're angry. No, you may not take out your anger on other kids or their toys. A consequence should then be given, whether it's a time out, no dessert, or whatever you deem appropriate and then--this is key--enacted. If kids act out and aren't told they can't do so and then aren't held accountable for their actions in an age-appropriate manner, then the negative behavior will be repeated.
Listen, if you don't care that your kid is climbing onto the top of the jungle gym, then don't tell them to stop. But if you do, then tell the kid and be firm about having them climb down to a safer level. If you know you should care that your kid is using your iPad but don't really mind, then please don't say 'no" without any conviction. Your kid knows you are bluffing and will keep on tapping away. It's the rest of us who have to watch you negotiate for 15 minutes about the three minutes the kid supposedly has allotted for iPad use. You cannot negotiate with children. You will lose. Kids not only sense when you don't mean what you say, they recognize prior behavior (yours) and know how long they have to push before they successfully wheedle whatever it is they want from you.
It appears some parents never say "no." Ever. If a child isn't going to bed at bedtime it's not because the child "just won't," it's because you pretend not to see him sneak out of his bedroom and then reward him with attention if he stays up. I once watched a child come up to Monkey and hit him. Twice. In the head. The parent only said the child's name, but never said, "No, we don't hit our friends" much less made him apologize. I've seen children who don't eat their dinner but get fed ice cream when they're hungry 20 minutes later. If I could have gotten away with that as a kid, I would have never eaten dinner.
I know there are exceptions for certain behavior or a point when parents can't deal and give in. I get it. I also get choosing your battles, but commanding respect is not optional. Treating others with kindness is not optional. I cannot promise that your kid won't crumple onto the floor when you say "no," but I can promise you she'll get up. Even though saying "no" and disappointing your kids is difficult, when you say "no" consistently, life gets easier, not harder. Instead of prolonged whining until a kid gets his way, there could be silence because he knows you mean what you say. Instead of asking a million times for sweets or TV time, your kids may not ask once because you've consistently told them they can't have access to either until after dinner.
The other day Munchkin collapsed on the floor in public because I wouldn't give her my coffee to drink. It was easy to say "no" because one-year-olds don't drink coffee and we all know Munchkin does not need caffeine. So next time your kid asks for a cookie right before dinner or a toy you can't afford, pretend it's coffee and just say "no."