The “Yes” Factor
I have to admit, I am a “No” parent by nature. When the kids ask me if they can do something, go somewhere, buy this, or change that, my instinctive response is “No”… “Nope — that’s gonna to take WAY too long!” “That’s far too expensive!” “You’re going to fall!” Finding yourself in this list of scenarios? Sometimes we find their proposals to be too demanding or just plain inconvenient (for me, that is). I wish it weren’t true, but it’s almost like a reflex for me!
But in Fact, it’s Not a Reflex. It is a Habit. And Habits can Change.
Think about all the choices you make and the freedoms you enjoy. Each day you choose what to wear, where to go, what to eat, who to interact with, etc. Now put yourself in your kid’s shoes for a minute. Think about all the choices that are made for him. A day in the life of your child includes a lot of demands and refusals from others. You can imagine how frustrating this must be. Just like adults, children need to have a sense of control over the choices they make.
Saying Yes Doesn’t Mean No Boundaries
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that we should all let our kids do whatever they want and never hear the word ‘no.’ Boundaries are healthy and necessary; structure makes kids feel secure and even loved. But if you’re creating a “No” environment in your home and in the lives of your children, don’t be surprised when the overall family vibe becomes, well, negative. How could it not?
The Harms of being a “No” Parent
Being a “No” parent robs children of their opportunity to learn and grow as decision-makers. Instead of having to say “no” all the time, what we really want are children who are self-disciplined. Understanding and taking responsibility for their choices is the only way for kids to build this self-discipline. A good parent will hold the reins just loosely enough to allow his/her child to make choices– even mistakes– and learn from them.
The Mom Who Said “Yes” for a Week
In a viral video from Buzzfeed, one mom documents her experiment of only saying “Yes” to her young kids for a week. The journey is full of unexpected surprises, to be sure (spaghetti tacos for dinner, anyone?)! But ultimately this brave mother is surprised by the choices that her kids made. “I have good kids!” she exclaims.
Next time your child wants to do, say, try, or buy something that seems a bit iffy, pause a moment before stamping down that instinctive “No.” What are your reasons for wanting to say no? To make things more convenient for yourself? To save your child from having to learn something the hard (i.e. meaningful) way?
Give yourself a break from being the warden, the officer, the gatekeeper, the dictator. Consider the possibility of “Yes.”