Don’t be afraid to say NO to your child!
Children actually want you to say ‘no’ some of the time. It makes them very nervous if the answer is always ‘yes’.
I know it is hard to believe. Especially when you see how hard they are willing to work to have you change your mind when you do say NO.
They can sulk and throw tantrums and try over and over again, but if you can stick to your answer of NO despite what behaviours they dish up, you will be very surprised to discover that your child, who may have seemed completely out of control in the past, is actually very reasonable and calm and will accept your answers without too much opposition in the future.
The problem is that too often parents cannot stand the tantrum and come to believe that ‘giving in’ is the fastest, most effective solution. But this is not true.
Step back from the situation and think about this from your child’s point of view. They may be happier to accept NO for an answer than you think they are. Perhaps you have not really put that to the test yet.
Let’s look at a scenario:
- Your child wants something.
- They let you know they want it.
- You say NO
- Your child tries again to get what he/she wants.
- You again say NO.
- Your child tries again…and maybe escalates the request to a demand.
- You again say NO.
- Then your child wants to know why not.
- You answer or you don’t answer (doesn’t matter which)
- Your child then tries to argue the point (whether you made one or not)
What happens next of course depends on you. It depends largely on what you routinely do in response to your child’s repeated nagging, asking or demanding.
On the surface of it, it seems like the child simply wants to do or have something in particular. It may even begin to feel like a battle of the wills (and sometimes it is exactly that, but not always!).
More often than not, your child actually understands that when they ask for something, the answer could be NO. In fact, they will most likely have prepared a list of reasons that they should be allowed to have or do whatever it is that they want (this is of course in the case of an older child). Young children only know that they want it. Older children understand the concept of debate, argument and persistence.
Why is it that older children understand those things?
Well, it is because you, the parents taught those things to your child when they were young.
Persistence. You taught your child to persist, when you changed a NO to a YES simply on the basis of the argument not being ‘worth the trouble’. Your child learned that if they keep crying, screaming or simply asking over and over again, that you will eventually give in and say yes. You taught them that by repeatedly doing so. Later, when they are older they know you will eventually give in, so they are practically running the show a lot of the time.
But what would have happened if you had not allowed your child to see that their persistence paid off in that way? Imagine if you let your NO be NO and your YES be YES.
It is never too late to bring in a new understanding into the way you run your family.
If you allow your child to have what they want most of the time, then they will expect to get what they want by the same means elsewhere in their life, not only at home with you.
So what’s wrong with that?
Well it is in fact highly unfair to let a child have what they want most of the time and to let them think that if they nag or throw a tantrum there is an excellent chance they will get what they want.
This is not something that will happen for them everywhere they go. It will not happen at school. It will most likely not happen when they are playing with friends and with the parents of other children.
It would be great at this point if parents could keep in mind what is actually going on when a child escalates their behaviours to get what they want.
Children want to know that you love them more than anything else in the world. They are not so interested in having what they want as knowing that you care about them.
- What if you turned every request into an opportunity to show love to your child?
- What if you looked at requests from your child differently?
- What if you understood that saying no with love can actually make your child feel happy and secure?
- What if you took a minute to explain why you are saying no, or that you would like to say yes, but you know it would not be good for your child?
- What if you refused to enter into debate over a NO?
- What if you expressed your understanding for why your child wants something and on top of that expressed that while you understand their reason, it does not change your answer?
- What if you let your child see that you are in fact in control?
How do you think all these things would affect your child?
Well, I can tell you. If you could do those things, CONSISTENTLY, here’s what you can expect to happen:
- Your child will feel loved and secure.
- They will relax in the knowledge that someone who knows more than them is ‘steering the boat’. They will come to understand that arguing is not the way to turn a situation around.
- They will see what it looks like to manage other people rather than react to them.
- They will see that wanting something doesn’t mean you will get it.
- They will see that your role includes making decisions for them and their role is to live with those decisions.
- They will learn that throwing a tantrum does not result in a change of decision (and can possibly have the opposite effect).
- They will learn that love does not mean saying YES all the time.
So next time your child asks you can they have something, don’t be afraid to say NO. But if you do say NO….stick to it no matter what.
If your child is not used this being the ‘norm’ in your home, then take a few minutes when there is no issue or request being denied and explain your role as the parent so your child can see that possibly something has changed.
It doesn’t matter if your children are strong-willed. They will give in, in the interest of self-preservation. If you have been giving your child most of what they want for a very long time, then it is only fair to expect them to ‘hold out’ for a very long time to get what they want. Remember, you taught them that if they persist, they will get it. So don’t hold it against them if they do persist.
Just understand that if you don’t stop this pattern of behaviour now, it is going to cost your child dearly as time goes by. Also, it will mean you have less control over your own life probably for the rest of your life. Do you really want to be a slave to your child’s whims for the rest of your life?
How many people in their 50’s and 60’s have you seen still trying to ‘give’ their adult kids what they want one way or another? When that happens it is easy to see that the parents have been mistaken. And it is riduculous actually.
It is not as ridiculous when you see that happening with a 3 year old. However, it really is as damaging to all involved.
So don’t be afraid to say NO and STICK TO IT! It will save not only time, but ultimately could save your child from having unrealistic expectations of other people for the rest of their lives.
Leave a comment and let people know what you think about saying NO and sticking to it.
Let us know about your child’s tantrums or if you have any questions you would like answered.
Talkback to me! I’m interested in what you have to say.