It all starts out innocently enough.
Your toddler asks for a cookie just before dinner and you say no, but then they look up at you with those little doe-eyes and you crumble. How can you say no to such sweetness? What if they starve in the 10 minutes between now and dinner? Soon, your little angel begins to offer counter arguments when you say no, and you give in… again.
Then there are the times where they simply don’t listen and rather than risk a tantrum or public scene, you quietly let it slide. Then one day you’re sitting there and it hits you, this kid has no idea what no means. To them it means ask again, pester, ignore, argue, whine, plead, beg and demand until mom says yes. Who’s fault is this? Why all yours of course.
If this sounds like your household, it’s time to get yourself reacquainted with the definition of no and share it with your children.
a negative used to express dissent, denial, or refusal, as in response to a question or request.
Seems simple enough. Now let’s see how to implement it effectively and save your sanity.
Step 1 – Let the kids know there’s a new Sheriff in town and that when you say no, you mean it. It’s only fair to let them know that things will be changing. After all, they might actually think that ‘no’ means ‘yes’. Bring definition with you.
Step 2 – Make sure you really mean no when you say it. Try to get into the routine of saying “Give me a minute to think about it” when your child asks you something rather than a snap “No”. This buys you some time to contemplate the request and give a fair answer. Often times we fall into the habit of saying no to everything and backpedalling on 80% of it. You can’t blame your kids for always trying to change your mind.
Step 3 – If the answer is no, be prepared to stick to your guns. No. Matter. What.
No amount of begging, pleading, or tantrum throwing is going to make you change your mind. Steel yourself. Keep calm and carry on. Your kids will get used to it soon if you hold firm. Just keep in mind that if you give in, then you’re back at square one.
Step 4 – Give explanations only when necessary. For example, if your child asks for a cookie before dinner, chances are good you’ve explained this one before. No is enough. If your child wants to know why they can’t stay out as late as everyone else than they deserve an explanation. You shouldn’t have to give it every time though.
Step 5 – You are not paid enough to be an actress, so don’t get sucked into the drama. Go about your business. If need be, remove yourself from the room so you don’t end up trying to defend your answer.
Step 6 – The first time your child takes your no and doesn’t argue back, let them know that was pretty cool. No one likes to be told they can’t do something, make sure you recognize when your kids develop the emotional maturity to accept it willingly and move on.
You’re in for a long haul Mom. You have to teach your children the true meaning of no, show them that you mean it when you say it and teach them appropriate responses and how to cope with disappointment. Good luck everyone!
But what do you think? Do you have a hard time saying no? What tips have you picked up over years? Share away…
Candace Derickx is a proud Canuck with a sense of humour. Note the ‘u’ in humour, eh? A wife, mother to two girls, stepmom to a ‘gulp’ University student, and owner of a golden doodle who gets way more attention than the rest of the family. Probably because she doesn’t tell fart jokes, although she can clear a room!