I say no to my kids. At times, my children might think it is an unfortunate circumstance, but I am confident enough in my parenting beliefs to know that it is often for their own good.
“No is not just a one word answer, it is a parenting strategy.”
–Dr. David Walsh PhD, author of No: Why Kids of All Ages Need to Hear It and Ways Parents Can Say It.
My four children were born into a family where their mother and father are not afraid to say “no” – and to mean it. At times, my children might think it is an unfortunate circumstance, but I am confident enough in my parenting beliefs and values to know that it is often for their own good.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of times that my husband and I do say “yes,” and cave into requests. But, in our parenting journey, we are working hard to enforce rules, consequences, limits, and boundaries that are reflections of the values that we are trying to instill in our children, and that also reflect the love and dedication that we have for them.
Sometimes our “nos” are driven by the intent to keep our children safe and healthy. But we also have the goal for our children to grow up to be well-adjusted adults who know how to work through disappointment and frustration. To do this, our children need to experience and understand how to delay gratification and also to understand how to have a healthy work/life/extracurricular balance.
I also know that my children need – and sometimes, (even though their actions and/or emotions may not show it) want – to hear the word no.
It’s not always easy…
Saying “no” and meaning it can be exhausting! As a kindergarten teacher and mother of four, I have had my fair share of experiences with vocal, disappointed children who have not liked what I have had to say.
I know that, in the short term, it can be a lot easier and can take a lot less effort to let your child get their way, rather than standing strong.
Amy McCready in her book The ‘Me, Me, Me’ Epidemic: A Step-by-Step Guide to Raising Capable, Grateful Kids in an Over-Entitled World, elaborates on how a habit of giving-in can be detrimental:
It happens in the car, at home, in stores, at the park — you name it. It’s the great give-in, and it’s one of the biggest contributors to the entitlement epidemic. Desperate parents everywhere cave when their kids push them hard enough, teaching them all kinds of unhelpful lessons: for instance, that rules can be broken and that it’s perfectly acceptable to use bad behavior to accomplish a goal.
Feelings of guilt can also weigh us down as parents. You have probably been there too, thinking you are being too harsh or catching yourself worrying that you are depriving your child(ren) of something that “everyone else” does or has access to.
But the reality is, that oftentimes, a simple “no” can open up opportunity for more time together, less time working to pay something off, and fewer commitments, all of which that can have the potential to alleviate some stress.
As our young children grow into teenagers, they need our guidance, direction, caring and consistency to help keep them safe and to help them make good choices.
When faced oppositional response from the child you love can be difficult, but at these times it is important to keep our child’s safety, our parenting goals, and the values that we want to instill in our children in mind.
Image credit: Mindaugas Danys