I've been thinking about the four-part denial lately. The steps are:
1. Acknowledge what they wanted.
2. Tell them they can’t have it.
3. Acknowledge how that makes them feel.
4. Offer an alternative.
I think this works really well for kids ages about 3.5 and up. And adults you have to deal with, too.
"I know you want ice cream. We're not having ice cream today. I know that makes you feel angry and frustrated. We can have ice cream tomorrow."
"I know you want the project rushed to be finished by tomorrow. That can't happen given the project workflow. I'm sure that makes you feel frustrated. We can have all the specs revisited this afternoon at the regular meeting."
Have you used it? Does it work for you? When were your kids able to respond to it?