Sticking with "no" - Mothering Forums

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Old 10-12-2007, 02:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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How do you know when to stick with your no's? (and stick with insisting that dc do what you've asked them to do)
This blog Pondering Parenting reminded me of something that I've agreed with for a long time- you don't spoil kids by saying yes or giving them what they want. You spoil them by saying yes grudgingly.

So...I've noticed that my "no" means diddly squat to ds. lol. His response is "yes...yes we will do x." over and over and over. Depending on what it is, he'll repeat that from up to 15-30 minutes.

Up until a couple days ago, I've been guilty of second guessing myself. I'd say no or insist that ds do something. When he expresses his unhappiness (by whining or crying of course), I wonder if what I'm saying is fair, if I should change my mind, etc. I don't WANT to change my mind, but in second guessing myself, I become too unsure of what's right that I give in.
This feels way different than when I realize that I'm wrong, and change my mind because I feel like it's the best thing to do.

Of course I want to be respectful and considerate of ds. But where do you draw the line between that and knowing that sometimes you (as a parent) can insist and stick with it? And even that sometimes parents do know best?

I re-read Loving Your Child Is Not Enough by Nancy Samalin yesterday. I love the book. She talks about being permissive with feelings and strict with behavior. I agree with that, but I tend to be the opposite.

Becky, partner to Teague, SAHM to Keagan (7yo), Jonah (2yo)
 

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Old 10-12-2007, 02:38 PM
 
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Everything is negotiable in our house. We negotiate with our kids (14m and 28m) on a daily basis. We run off the philosophy that nobody (us or them) really has the right to order the other ones around.

So I guess we don't "stick with no" unless we have persuaded the kid (or they have persuaded us)
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Old 10-12-2007, 02:41 PM
 
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When my kids were little I used to tell them (when I wasn't sure) "If you want an answer right now, it is 'no', If you are willing to let me think about it, the answer is 'maybe'". I had to be a broken record, but eventually, it worked. That way I could contemplate what I was willing to do, and was much much happier. So were they!
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Old 10-12-2007, 03:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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When my kids were little I used to tell them (when I wasn't sure) "If you want an answer right now, it is 'no', If you are willing to let me think about it, the answer is 'maybe'". I had to be a broken record, but eventually, it worked. That way I could contemplate what I was willing to do, and was much much happier. So were they!
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good idea! I'm going to try this.

ShaggyDaddy- most of the stuff in our house is definitely negotiable. When/where he eats, what he eats is largely negotiable, when he sleeps, when/if he takes a bath, gets dressed, what he wears, tv, if he wants to come shopping or stay home with dp, if he wants to help clean up toys or not, when we change a poopy diaper (he won't poo in the potty yet) etc etc. One of the few things that is not negotiable is tooth brushing- he has had cavities filled and needs to go back, and HATES going to the dentist. But toothbrushing isn't much of an issue- he doesn't love it, but allows it to be done pretty easily.

Nursing is one thing that I'm struggling with. I'm soooo done with nursing a 3yo, and my personal limits are getting lower and lower. He wants to nurse, and doesn't accept no easily. Sometimes, he insists and will start to try to force my shirt up, which really really bothers me a lot. It feels really gross when he does that. I don't want to nurse "for just a minute"- it's my body. I do my darndest to respect his bodily integrity, and I want mine respected too.

Another is that ds wants to buy stuff every single time we go to a store. It's not a big deal when it's food, except that he wants candy. But even then, it's not a huge deal, because we just have to brush teeth after. But recently he asked for a $20 Thomas Train from the grocery store. We are on a budget, so the train was out of the question for that day. I suggested putting it on his Christmas list (we're doing Christmas with my family next month), getting something else, etc etc. I tried to empathize, work with him, etc. He refused to put it back. I ended up taking him from the store screaming.

I wonder if one reason that it was that big of a deal is that he didn't really think that when I said "we can't get it" that I really meant it, because I "give in" to whining/fits so often.

Becky, partner to Teague, SAHM to Keagan (7yo), Jonah (2yo)
 

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Old 10-12-2007, 03:21 PM
 
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I've learned to be very judicious when dishing out "nos." It never ever hurts to take a few minutes to think, to ask more questions, and to talk before you say "no." If I do say "no" though -- I tend to stick with it.

If my child feels that I've said "no" unfairly, my expectation is that they will stop what they are doing and come disscuss it politely. The chances of me changing my answer are vastly larger in this case. However, if they bulldoze ahead with what they want, disregard my answer, speak disrespectfully, etc.. then the issue at hand changes. Its no longer about what they want, and we probably aren't going to go to that disscussion anytime sooner, because there are bigger issues at that point, IMO.
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Old 10-12-2007, 03:24 PM
 
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I take a deep breath and make myself think for a moment before I say no. I don't say "no" unless I have I reason; my default answer is "yes." That way, if I do say no, I'm sure I have a reason for it, and then I can stick to it. I generally ignore pleading. It's hard to generalize, sometimes something demands a response, but basically I try to move on. Sometimes I say, "You can ask me one more time, and then I'm not going to answer that question anymore." I do listen to them with one ear, and every now and then they something pursuasive. I will change my mind, and let them know they convinced me. Theoretically, that might give them an excuse to argue every time, but maybe I've just been lucky, I found they generally do take "no" for an answer.
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Old 10-12-2007, 03:35 PM
 
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I find that if I take the time to stop and think about what my concern is, then it's easier to find a solution that doesn't have me second-guessing myself or grudgingly changing my mind. What I mean is, if I'm not clear on what my concern is and my child asks for cake at 10 am (on rare occasions when we have cake in the house) I will reflexively say "no." I don't want her eating cake at 10 am, I feel strongly about that. And she will protest. Then I may find myself thinking "well, really why can't she have cake at 10 am? What rule of the universe prohibits that? Maybe I'm being to random/irrational/whatever." But if I take some time to reflect before answering (and I may have to say to my child that I need time--I liked laoxinat's phrase about if I answer now it's no...) I realize that my concern is not about eating cake at 10 am per se. Rather, my concern is that my child hasn't eaten anything since 7:30 am, if she eats cake now she won't eat lunch, and then since she hasn't had healthy food since 7:30 am by the time lunchtime rolls around she'll be very, very grumpy and hard to get along with. Knowing this, I might say no and tell her why and stick to it. Or, as we did one day, we may come to a solution where she eats a healthy snack (half a sandwich) and then eats cake (worked out well, btw-she had cake and I was satisfied b/c she wasn't cranky).

I think there's a lot of value in taking some time to reflect before answering. Or before changing your mind. And ime, kids can learn that letting mom take that time is beneficial.
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Old 10-12-2007, 03:36 PM
 
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Try as much as possible not to say no. That's been my biggest challenge! If you don't say no, you won't have to change your mind with more information.

When do you really need to say no?

--if you think that something is bad for the child or dangerous.
--if it encroaches on your physical boundaries, for example if the child is jumping on you or hitting you, or wants to nurse when you don't
--if he's annoying or harming someone else
--if it's something you can't afford the money or time to buy or do.

That last one is the hardest, especially when you know it's about time rather than money. I always want to say "oh, who cares about dinner, let's hang out in the cafe and you can tell me stories!" but I know that I can't do that.

So if you think it's okay for him to have candy, tell him up front, "When we leave the store, I will buy you one piece of candy. Get ready to pick one when we get to the checkout counter--do you think you can surprise me about what kind?"

If it's not okay for him to have it, then tell him before you walk in that you aren't getting candy this time. Give him a job to do for you in the store instead. "You know, I really don't want you to have candy because I think it's bad for your tummy. On this trip, you are going to be my special helper and you are going to help me find all the fruit for the cart. What kind of fruit are we going to buy?"

You can see that my bias is toward lots of conversation! I have a whole philosophy of discipline that you could call the vocabulary-building theory of behavior management! I might even care more about him learning words than about how he acts on a lot of occasions.

I don't think your ds having a tantrum from disappointment from a "no" is because of a weak no. It's because he was disappointed and didn't know how to handle that. He's little. That's how it goes. Disappointment is hard at their age. You try to be comforting, but it's not always so easy to figure out how to help them with it.

Divorced mom of one awesome boy born 2-3-2003.
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Old 10-12-2007, 03:43 PM
 
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I don't think your ds having a tantrum from disappointment from a "no" is because of a weak no. It's because he was disappointed and didn't know how to handle that. He's little. That's how it goes. Disappointment is hard at their age. You try to be comforting, but it's not always so easy to figure out how to help them with it.
I agree. I had to learn to let go of the idea that if I did just the right thing, said just the right thing, or empathized enough/just the right way, that my kids would respond reasonably (as in "okay, mommy, I understand, I'll put the train back now"). Sometimes, they just don't. Sometimes, they're very disappointed and cry a lot and refuse to leave....but they survive it, and they learn that disappointment is survivable, and an hour later they've left it in the past and moved on. And they're fine. Sometimes all you can do is say "I know you really want that, and I'm sorry you can't have it" and just let them cry as you carry them to the car in your loving arms.
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Old 10-12-2007, 03:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all for the responses. Its good for me to read about people who like to say yes most of the time, but appear comfortable about the times that they feel the situation warrants a "no."

I'm going to get better at this!

Becky, partner to Teague, SAHM to Keagan (7yo), Jonah (2yo)
 

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Old 10-12-2007, 04:01 PM
 
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I'm one of those people that say 'no' too often:and then have to go back on it, I usually say (after I've said the no, to give me some more time to think!) give me a good reason... than i really think about it. The times that no is no, when they ask again - in a certain tone of voice "I've said no, now don't ask me again", that puts a stop to it! I'm reading the end of "hold on to your kids" and it says that when your child is mad, that you need to turn that mad into sad, and tears in order to move onso far its not working so well for me!!!! But I did manage to keep to my 'no t.v. till after nap' rule today

Mom to Ds1 (8 1/2) Ds2 (6) Dd (2 1/2)!!!!
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Old 10-12-2007, 04:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The times that no is no, when they ask again - in a certain tone of voice "I've said no, now don't ask me again", that puts a stop to it!
Good point-
what does everyone else say/do after they've determined that "no" is the best answer, that nothing will change their mind, and dc keeps asking over and over?
I'm guessing that logical rational discussions would be addressed, but how do you respond to something like "I want a nip (our word for nursing). I want a nip. I want a nip. I want a nip. I want a nip. (etc etc etc etc)"

Becky, partner to Teague, SAHM to Keagan (7yo), Jonah (2yo)
 

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Old 10-12-2007, 04:23 PM
 
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The no's I always stick to are ones that surround my own personal boundaries, and around protecting others and their property. Sometimes my personal boundaries include not negotiating for 5 minutes over a late afternoon lollipop at the grocery store when I know the pure sugar rush is going to wreck him for the evening....so I'll tell him something like, 'next time we're out in the morning you can pick one; all that sugar this late in the day isn't good for your body', and sometimes he's fine with it, sometimes he's not...and either way he's free to express himself, but that's a no I stick with because I'm the one who has to deal with the quivering mess at 7pm if he has the lollipop. I also don't want him to think that every time we go out he gets to pick something, just on general principle - I don't want him to become a mass consumer - though it recently occurred to me that it could appear to him that every time we go out *I* get something since I'm loading the cart. Soooooo, we've started bringing lists when we shop, and talking beforehand about whether or not this is a "list" trip or an "extras" trip where he can pick out something small.

Re: the nursing, I would be very direct with him, definitely. DD is 15 months, and I'm already firm with her in nursing manners and not appreciating being pawed at if she wants to nurse. I think you are 100% within your rights to expect him to act respectfully towards you and not try to lift your shirt up without asking, or if you tell him 'in a few minutes', or even 'no'... Even if it makes him mad.

Then again, as all the regulars on the GD board know, I am comfortable with imposing my will on my children on occasion. I don't get a thrill over it and don't do it just to pull a power trip or to teach them a lesson, I do it because of what I believe about their developmental abilities to reason and see long term ramifications of decisions, and their developmental abilities to consider the effect their choices make on themselves and others. While I believe my children's ideas and opinions are valid and their input valuable, I do not always make the choice they would, and in our family, ultimately I (or my husband) am the decision maker in situations where we are at a stalemate - most often, we come to a solution that works for everyone - but when we don't, I empathize, validate, and get it done as quickly as possible, and move on.

I know you're a conscientious parent who is not on a power trip or dictating from above simply because you canor "should". If you've thought out situations and have a valid reason for saying "no" and he's not able to understand the reasoning behind it at this point in his life, I think it's OK for you to gently enforce whatever boundary it is after explaining to him, whether or not he's happy about it. While I don't think it's my job to disappoint my kids to teach them about 'the real world', I also don't think it's my job to prevent them from ever being upset with me. : I think having this conversation on this board is different from talking about parents in general out in the 'real world', because I'm pretty sure the parents on this board are not out on power trips and trying to micromanage their kids' lives...that kind of "no" parenting I think is harmful. The kind of "no" parenting that most of us talk about here is done with consideration and reflection. To a point, I think things like this also can be useful in showing children that they can get over small disappointments, a skill that will serve them well throughout their lives. I want my kids to stand up for themselves and others when there is a true miscarriage of justice, but to also learn to recognize when it's "small stuff" in the grand scheme of things, work through it, and move on. Something might *seem* big to them at this point in their lives, but I also believe it's my job to gently teach them the difference between small stuff and big stuff by gently, but firmly setting limits sometimes when they are unable to see past the *right now* (which I think some kids are better at than others).

I hope some of this was helpful!

Heather, WAHM to DS (01/04)DD (06/06). Wed to DH(09/97)
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Old 10-12-2007, 04:27 PM
 
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Good point-
what does everyone else say/do after they've determined that "no" is the best answer, that nothing will change their mind, and dc keeps asking over and over? "
I say, "Honey, I've already given you an answer. I know it's not the answer you wanted to hear, but it's not going to change." and then try to steer the conversation to another topic. The old bean dip for kids, if you will.

Heather, WAHM to DS (01/04)DD (06/06). Wed to DH(09/97)
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Old 10-12-2007, 05:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I say, "Honey, I've already given you an answer. I know it's not the answer you wanted to hear, but it's not going to change." and then try to steer the conversation to another topic. The old bean dip for kids, if you will.
love it! Thanks. (and I liked your other post too )

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Old 10-12-2007, 05:46 PM
 
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When dc keeps asking over and over, I also do "the old bean dip for kids." It's some version of "I said no, my answer is not going to change, and I don't want to talk about it anymore right now." Then move on to another topic, go about my business, invite them to help with something interesting.
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Old 10-12-2007, 07:12 PM
 
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Just wanted to add that I read that same blog and it really switched my thinking about saying no. I still say it, but I've become much more careful about not using it as a default. The odd thing I've noticed is that if I say, "I don't know. I have to think about it." or even just "Maybe" he will 9 out of 10 times drop it completely. Like it's the same result as a "no", but without the whining for 20 minutes after. I don't know what to make of that.
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Old 10-12-2007, 08:38 PM
 
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I would stick very firmly to your "no" regarding nursing. I know that gross feeling you're talking about (it actually made my skin crawl and toes curl,) and to disregard that feeling and allow him to nurse anyway is not respecting your own body. We have many discussions here about our rights to our own bodies, and each person's right to decide what happens to their own body. I would explain very gently, but very clearly that it is making you uncomfortable, that you know it is important to him and that you will work with him to help him deal with it, with snuggles, stories, whatever, but that your answer is an adamant "No."

(This is my response to the nursing part of your post specifically because I DID let ds nurse sometimes when I felt that way, because of his insistence, or disappointment, because I was second guessing myself and thinking it's so important to him that I should be able to tolerate it for a few minutes...and I started feeling resentful. It was not the right thing to do.)

ETA: According to the quiz in our local newspaper yesterday, I am the worst kind of "pushover parent" and I let my child walk all over me and get away with everything. )
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Old 10-13-2007, 01:08 AM
 
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I would stick very firmly to your "no" regarding nursing. I know that gross feeling you're talking about (it actually made my skin crawl and toes curl,) and to disregard that feeling and allow him to nurse anyway is not respecting your own body. We have many discussions here about our rights to our own bodies, and each person's right to decide what happens to their own body. I would explain very gently, but very clearly that it is making you uncomfortable, that you know it is important to him and that you will work with him to help him deal with it, with snuggles, stories, whatever, but that your answer is an adamant "No.")
ITA with abac about this. I would be afraid that he would pick up on your discomfort, and that would confuse him. Maybe instead of feeling guilty, you can imagine someone trying to do something to his body that made him profoundly uncomfortable, and then model the firm, calm way that you would want him to say "no"? My dd had developed this habit of leaping onto my shoulders while I'm on the floor changing the baby, and I HATE IT! I'm claustrophobic, and it just sets off my panic reflex. The first time she did it, I just reacted, flipping her off and jumping up. She thought that was fun, so I tried to turn it into a game, but just felt so...I don't know what. Like if I was sitting and waiting for a lion to attack me. So I have been trying to be very persistent, clear, and unamused when I tell her not to jump on me!

As for the other stuff, I can't help you because I do the same thing.

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Old 10-13-2007, 02:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I know that gross feeling you're talking about (it actually made my skin crawl and toes curl,) and to disregard that feeling and allow him to nurse anyway is not respecting your own body.
I definitely agree!

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ITA with abac about this. I would be afraid that he would pick up on your discomfort, and that would confuse him.
I have that concern. That even when I do give in and he's "happy" that he still knows that I don't want to, and that can't be a good thing.

Thanks to everybody who replied, especially about sticking with no to nursing, for the support! It's one place that I am constantly second guessing myself and feeling guilty about saying no. Dp is supportive of weaning (um, of course. lol) but sometimes it feels like saying no to nursing in an un-MDC/AP thing to do (even though I know better and have never read of anyone being flamed for limiting a 3yo. lol)

Becky, partner to Teague, SAHM to Keagan (7yo), Jonah (2yo)
 

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Old 10-13-2007, 02:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I also don't want him to think that every time we go out he gets to pick something, just on general principle - I don't want him to become a mass consumer - though it recently occurred to me that it could appear to him that every time we go out *I* get something since I'm loading the cart. Soooooo, we've started bringing lists when we shop, and talking beforehand about whether or not this is a "list" trip or an "extras" trip where he can pick out something small.
Yeah, I've had that thought lots- like, how fair is it that *I* get to pick out all kinds of things, and he doesn't get anything? Now I know that it's not that way in reality (ie, the stuff I pick out is for dinner for everybody) but to him, it could very well look like I get whatever I want.
I like the idea of talking about if its a "list trip" or an "extras trip"!

Becky, partner to Teague, SAHM to Keagan (7yo), Jonah (2yo)
 

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