No More

Saying Yes to My KidsChild holding cupcake in front of his mouth

  • What: Using positive phrases
  • When: As soon as they can respond
  • Why: Keep the mood positive
  • Where: Your home

Parenting comes with a lot of restrictions, and I don’t just mean when I can leave the house and how often I have to negotiate who does what tasks. I feel like I constantly have to tell my kids no. Not because I want to, but because I learned eating an entire bag of gummy worms instead of a meal and balancing on one foot on a chair with wheels are terrible ideas the hard way. In fact, most of the time I say no, I’m trying to help my kids.

But they sure don’t see it that way, and I can’t say I blame them.

Inside close up of child's mouth full of teeth

I got tired of hearing this noise, and switched my tactics to include more yes and less no.

So whenever possible, I try to say yes. Instead of “No, you can’t have a snack.” I go with “Yes, you can eat that with dinner in 30 minutes.” My strategy may not be an improvement, but I feel better about not being the grown up who always says no. I also use stop a lot, rather than no, which has more negative connotations. Saying no makes my kids want to do whatever I forbid that much more. Stop doesn’t have that effect. I’m probably preoccupied with the word no, but I heard somewhere (I’ve forgotten where in the haze of hormones) that ideally, people should hear yes five times as often as they hear no. So I toss in an extra “yes” now and then to help tip the scales in the direction of positive reinforcement.

Plus, when it really matters, my kids know I mean business when I say no.

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