Why Parents Should Stop Saying No
No. Nada. Nein. Nyet. Regardless of how you say it, every mom knows that “no means no!”, but every child believes that no means maybe. Even though it’s one of the first words that most children speak, it seems to be one of the hardest words for them to comprehend. So why don’t they get that mom means business when she says, “No!”
Because usually mom doesn’t follow through.
I am the first to admit that I occasionally, okay sometimes, alright OFTEN, don’t make good on my threats when it comes to the rules of the house. No Wii except for on the Wiikend completely disappeared for the summer, and my kids now run to turn it on before I can push them out the backdoor to play outside. Our no talking about television at the table rule completely falls away when my son and I excitedly realize that we want to record something on the DVR. And both kids know that if they pause and look at me after I say, “No,” to their question of the moment, there’s a decent chance that I’ll crumble and change my final answer to, “Well, okay.”
So what can moms do to make our kids understand that no is not negotiable? For starters, we need to say no less often. The truth is that “no” is sort of a knee-jerk reaction, a first response before we’ve taken the time to full consider what our kids are asking us to do or allow. I’ve often found that when they ask the second time, it turns out that turning over five coffee filters for a craft project is not a big deal or that one extra round of Wii isn’t going to turn their brains to mush. By saying maybe and considering or even saying – gasp! – yes with a smile, our kids will start to take no more seriously when that ruling is handed down.
We also need to begin following through with consequences when we say no and mean it. Kids learn very quickly that if no only means no some of the time, then there’s always a chance that no actually means yes. If you were rewarded for disobeying your mom by being allowed to do or have the thing you wanted, wouldn’t you keep acting out? I certainly would! Being consistent with our words and actions is one of parenting’s biggest challenges, but it can also give the power back to the word “no” that it deserves.
How do your kids react to the word no? Do they believe and accept it? Or is no simply the start of negotiations in your home?