Recently I was observing people. We were out at an outside shopping area and I was just people watching. There were a lot of families there with kids, mostly toddlers and I was just amazed at how many times the parents said, “no”. They did not really think, they just said no, If the kids asked for a penny to put in the wishing well, no, if they wanted a hug, no, if they wanted a new dress, no, it was like a constant chatter of the word no.
I started to think about this, do we as parents say no, just to move on and not have to deal with something? I know that kids need to learn boundaries but don’t they sometimes need to learn that sometimes its a yes? I personally think they do.
Have you ever been afraid to ask for anything? Help, a raise, your belongings back, to use a restroom in public? I have a horrible habit of not asking for help when I need it and would rather do it alone, or go without. I think if we continue to tell our children no without a good reason or without any thought behind it we are setting them up to not ask.
So, let’s go back a little bit, if a child asked you to give them a penny to throw into a wishing well, why would you say no? You may not have a penny and this is the only valid reason in my opinion. I want to teach wonder, and fun and frankly its just fun to watch a child throw that penny into that well and wish with all their might that something may come true. It’s a beautiful thing, but if you say no just automatically because it’s a hassle, you may have to look for the penny, stop talking to someone to get it, maybe stop walking to sit and watch them throw it, You are the one missing out. You do not get to share with your child the wonder of a wish, and why is that? You are too busy?
I literally watched and heard a child ask her mom for a hug, the kid was about 4 maybe 5 and just said “mom, can I have a hug”? She said NO, and turned her head to continue talking to her friend. The child was defeated, this poor little girl just instantly put her head down and kind of wandered away, she did not walk away she simply wandered away. This I think was the saddest one i saw. I don’t know why the child wanted a hug, I don’t know if one of her friends or siblings hurt her feelings or if she had fallen and needed a hug or if she just wanted to hug her mom, but how long is that child going to keep asking for that hug if the answer is NO? I don’t think for long. That is tragic to me.
The child wanting the new dress, oh how often we want new clothes, and how often we do buy them for our children without them even asking, I wonder even as I sit here today, why did she want a new dress? If I could not afford the dress I would ask her why she wanted one? Was it a special event coming up? Did one of her friends get a new dress, was it just something she loved? I know that sometimes I find something that I just love, and I want to own it. The color is perfect or it fits great I don’t NEED a new dress I just want one. I would tell my child, we can’t today but, lets put it on hold so we can come back. I may learn something about their style, or I may learn there is an event coming up that they did not tell me about before. They will learn that sometimes its just a wait a little while, and they learn patience.
Sometimes its important to say no, but next time before you say no, see if it fits in the following categories
- Is it unsafe?
- Is it hurting anyone or anything?
- If it continues, will it bother you?
- Will it led to long-term behavior problems?
- Is it something that is really just not needed?
I am not telling you how to parent, we all know there is enough of that going on. I simply wanted to show you a glimpse into what I saw and how often NO just slips out of lips without a thought. We cannot parent on auto-pilot, we need to know why we are saying something to our children so that we are sending the right messages. Now, go say yes a little more often if you can!