When you have children, you spend an excessive amount of time saying the word ‘No’. Your kids probably hear ‘No’ more times in a week than you do in an entire year. Sometimes we forget what it’s like not to be in charge of our own lives. But if you think back to when you were a kid, you can probably remember a time or two when you wanted something and your parents refused.
I remember wanting to be able to make my own decisions – to choose which cereal to buy from the grocery story (my mom always bought corn flakes and I loved Cherrios) or to be able to grow my hair long (my dad wanted us girls to keep our hair short).
Children need to have the freedom and responsibility to make their own choices. We sometimes get into the habit of saying No and it can become an almost automatic response. This can add to your child’s frustration and they may turn to negative behavior to circumvent the constant ‘Nos.
Inspired by one of my favorite podcasts, the Mighty Mommy (free to download on iTunes), I’m going to make tomorrow a ‘Yes’ day in my house. Since it’s an unexpected school holiday, I didn’t make plans and so I’m going to let them have a picnic on the living room floor, a balloon party and all the ‘Yes’ answers they can handle.
My five year old and two year old will be told ‘Yes’ for all reasonable requests – including letting the dog wear a necklace of flowers or finger painting the bathtub purple. In case you want to try it, here are 5 tips for how to say Yes more often to your kids.
1. First set some ground rules. Requests will be met with a ‘Yes’ so long as they do not endanger the child’s safety, physical well being or cause harm to any living thing or person.
2. Ask your kids to come up with ideas for how to make ‘Yes’ a more likely answer. For example, when my daughter wants to stay up late on the weekend, I tell her she can make it possible by taking a nap earlier in the day.
3. Offer ‘Yes’ tokens that your child can earn. I believe in chores and allowances and both are a part of our household routine. Let the kids also earn ‘Yes’ tokens for helping out around the house, for finishing their homework on time or other tasks they typically resist. Children can then trade in the ‘Yes’ tokens for reasonable requests – like going to the play place (my older daughter’s perennial favorite) or a trip to the movies.
4. Turn your ‘No’ around by putting the onus on the child to create ideas for ‘Yes’. When my five year old wants chocolate for breakfast, I tell her to come up with ideas for a breakfast that would include chocolate but that are also proper, healthy breakfasts. (Since she’s had chocolate chip pancakes before, this is something she can do easily).
5. Tell them ‘Yes’ to a shopping trip but let them earn their spending money with chores. My five year old has to empty the waste baskets in the bedroom, tidy up her toys and make up her bed. Then I will take her to the Sultan Center near my house (since the road closures on Tuesday in Kuwait are expected to cause traffic blockages) let her buy whatever she wants with her KD 2 allowance. She loves having the freedom to choose whatever she wants and I am teaching her the value of money and how to shop wisely and thoughtfully.
How often do you say ‘Yes’ vs ‘No’ to your children? What other tips could moms use to say ‘Yes’ more.