Another Way To Say NO To Kids: A Yes Approach

Today at Spencer’s near our home; I bought milkshake at my daughter’s choice. After the billing was done:

Khushi: I wanna drink now.

The man at the billing desk: Yes! Sure.

Mamma: You wanna drink? Well I have no issues but we don’t eat like that in a shop; we go home, wash our hands and face and then drink the milk shake.

Khushi: Shall I drink once I’m at home after I wash my face and hands? OK (with a smile)

We walked away hand-in-hand while the onlookers watched us with astonishment!

On my way back home, this blog came to my mind; the practice of taking a “YES” approach for a “NO”. Mostly it works for me! It’s like saying NO without uttering a “NO”!

It is often heard:

No, you cannot have that Rs. 500 toy.

No, you may not skip dinner.

No, you cannot do that……There are endless “No”!

As parents, we often use that “No” in such a frequency that we ourselves do not realize when we are creating a mess of it. So mustn’t we say no? Well, why not in a different tone. There are many ways to discipline our kids and in winning over them instead of forcing our “NO” on them.

My daughter was then 3 & 4 months old; suddenly I heard her singing a “NO” song…Yes! she was using the word and it’s various language synonyms to make a song of her own. It ranged from Nahi to Nai then Na and finally No! Wherever she must have heard the various forms, but it got converged in her tiny mind.

Next, she took it to a new level when she started saying us “No”! Should I discipline her then by yelling or spanking? No! I’m totally against spanking unless a kid does something very severe, and spanking a toddler is beyond my understanding. That would make her more adamant and in a way, I’m criticizing my role of saying “No”.

Kids watch us very minutely and even we do not know what goes inside their tiny minds. But they always have reasons!I realized where my “No” went wrong. Could I correct? Yes! But not by saying her that she was wrong in saying “No”…that would lead to several more questions in her mind. The best thing is to divert her mind into something she is more interested. In that way, there is no tug of war for “No”; but again every time diverting situation or circumstance is not a solution as well.

We can’t deny the fact that our kids first learn to say “NO” by emulating us. They do not know much about it but they only see the authority associated with a “NO”.

Again I believe that even a kid must learn to say “No” as well. That helps them in expressing their opinion later when they grow up. We suddenly can’t teach our kids to say No or expect they should face odd situations of life with a firm “NO”; when they need to express their authority. Even practicing a “NO’ and being confident with it, needs a practice.

It is on us how to teach our kids to say “No” or when to utter a “NO” and again the onus is on every parent to discipline them.The responsibility is to establish limitations on our kids and as well in a way that it doesn’t appear imposing.

And agree or not as a kid grows a single No doesn’t work and unknowingly we find ourselves yelling and screaming to make our “NO” audible. There are various ways which are better than a flat “No.” One way that I say “No” is by saying “Yes.”

This works mainly between kids with age range of 1–3 years; they don’t know what they should be doing and what is the right thing to do. You might think that the child is actively defying you, mainly when he/she is three years old; when it just might be about not knowing, about needing more information.So, once I found my daughter jumping on a brand new couch, and I immediately, asked her, “Do you feel like jumping? She said yes, and I asked her to jump on a mattress that’s laid on the floor. But told her not to jump on the new couch.”

In a way, I suggested her an alternative instead of a plain “ NO”. Actually, it’s a practice to say “Yes” before we say “No,”.

Suppose she wants to eat a biscuit during dinner time, I will put it right near her and tell her she can have that biscuit later. But right now you can have your roti and curry. In that way, I’m acknowledging what my child wants, and I’m saying “Yes,” that she will get what she wants but, later! This might not always work; not even half the time. But it is often better than a flat “NO”. This not only avoids being authoritative but also instills within them the art of being patient.

There is a downside to anything too much. The downside to saying “No” too much is that the child stops trying and testing. Trying is essential…..moving out, challenging you, questioning authority …..that’s good …some of the time. And as they grow older, instead of saying “No” right away, perhaps we must say to a 7 or an 8-year-old, “Tell me one good reason, why you should do that or have that? ” or “Convince me, my child.” Direct “No” will make them see us as a giant Thumb that always points downward.

Setting boundaries are really critical to a child’s well-being. Children who have boundaries and limits feel safe and who do not, don’t feel safe. They are reluctant to take risks or they just act out as there is no one in charge. When they are a teenager with their hormones playing with their moods, our stern “No” fails to fall on their ears and they try to challenge our authority.

The best this is to encourage Imitation!Our toddlers love to imitate us and play grown-up, so must take that to your advantage the next time he won’t cooperate, says Dr. Laible. Suppose he is reluctant to put on his warm clothes, for an instance, say, “I’m feeling cold, I’m gonna put on my sweater. You must be cold too, why don’t we put on our sweaters and other warm clothes, together?”

We can’t deny certain limitations that we set in our toddlers or certain discipline that we practice, it impacts their teenage phase as well. Teenagers do not get spoilt all of a sudden, but they start reasoning and many times we don’t know how to explain things because so long we have been imposing our voice.

But I do practice some common and strict “NO”,occasions!

There are several occasions when I clearly see a “NO” coming on. I might at times encounter my toddler’s defiance when she faces these sticky situations, but consistency and calm practice helped.

Mealtime: She has to make the transition from a fun activity when it’s time to eat a meal. No excuse works then!

Naptime or bedtime: A big struggle as it is but could overcome owing to her schedules.

At the mall or a playground: There you will find a rarely agreeable kid.

Setting limitations and saying “NO” are essential but the approach that we take creates a difference. A”Yes” approach to “NO” is what we follow, it works for us and I’m sure many moms there have same positive experiences.

You can drop your thoughts as comments below and keep watching this space for more parenting stories and other as well.

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