I am a yes person living a in a no environment!
(Zooey Deschanel, Almost Famous...anyone?)
One of things I am constantly trying to make a conscious effort to do is to stop saying "no". That doesn't mean that I'm going to let E do whatever he wants, that isn't safe or practical or good for my nerves. But finding new ways to say "no" makes me feel like I'm not repeating myself constantly.
Some things I've been trying to do and say are:
When E is running away from me (into the street) or making a mess or something else that he isn't supposed to be doing but that requires immediate action, I yell 'stop' instead of 'no'. It is still a negative type word but it is more of an action word rather than just scolding.
Walk away from there/hands behind your back.
When we are in a store or at someone's house E wants to touch everything. So instead of saying "no touching" I try to get him to put his hands behind his back or tell him to walk away. It doesn't always work but at least he hears something he can do instead of something he can't do.
This is similar to the last one. Instead of saying "no running", when all E really hears is "running", I say "walk please". Then he hears the word "walk".
We don't do that.
This is good for yelling at the table, running around a store, etc. "We don't yell when we are at the table", "we don't put stickers on furniture", "we don't throw things in the house", "we don't lick things on the subway".
Hey, let's do ___ instead.
Redirection is used often in our house. As upset as E can get over not being allowed to do something, he is also quick to cheer up if he's got something else to hold his interest, and thank goodness for that!