I’ve heard lot of parents wanting to know how to get their kids to stop saying no to them. Other parents have said they hardly use the word no with their kids and try and find alternative phrases.
My concern is that both these styles of parenting will raise adults who struggle to define their healthy boundaries and won’t be able to say no when needed.
No is a very healthy and useful word. It expresses what we will and won’t do. What we will and won’t aceept. We want our adult children to be able to do this.
We want our kid to have had sufficient practice in a safe space with having their no respected. We want them to know it is a word with power.
Picture your kid as an adult or even a teenager. Someone is pressuring them to do something they don’t want to. Something you’d be horrified if they went along with. How do you want them to react in that moment?
So we need to both model clearly saying no and respect their no.
While there is plenty of merit in not overusing the word with them and finding alternative phrases (“we can do … later”), sometimes its important to be really clear and direct with our kids and give them an absolute answer, then deal with the fall out.
Just because our kid says no to us doesn’t mean we can’t respect their response, even if it won’t be the final outcome.
“Let’s go and brush our teeth.”
“Your telling me you don’t want to brush your teeth right now.”
“Your teeth will need to be brushed before bed. Do you want to do it later? Perhaps we could brush … (toy) teeth before yours? I’m going to take … (toy) in to have her teeth brushed now. Coming?”
Hearing no can be challenging for us who were raised with the idea that kids are meant to obey. Saying no might be hard for you if raised with ‘pleaser’ parent/s. To be comfortable with no will mean confronting deep seated beliefs and deciding if they are still relevant and useful. If the beliefs come from our childhood it’s possible we aren’t really conscious we have them until we focus on our thoughts and keep questioning ourselves for awhile.
“What are my beliefs about no? What is the role of a good parent? What is a kid meant to be? Why do I think this? Is this useful still?
My girl likes to roar “NO!” occasionally. To handle it better I like to picture her as an adult roaring at someone being a total arsehole to her.