If there is anything in this world that causes more arguments and strain between a parent and child, it is hearing the word, “no”.
Can I go my friend’s house down the street?
Can I have the new Zelda video game?
Can I take this to school?
And the list could go on and on. The answer to these questions provokes an angered and hurt response. Some children ask again, some pout, and some even cry. As parents, we have to hold on to our answer with a strong conviction. It isn’t always easy.
I learned a long time ago, that saying yes got a much better reception than always telling my kids they couldn’t do something. If you’ve ever had or currently have a head strong child, you can appreciate this.
When I told my oldest not to climb a tree, she climbed it anyways. When I told her not to play ball in the front yard near the busy street, she did at the first opportunity. Why? Because she wanted to prove that she could. To her, I was saying she couldn’t do something she knew she could do.
Kids don’t sometimes understand the reasoning behind a parent’s decision. We’re not obligated to give them one, but sometimes it opens up understanding and communication then simply saying, “Because I told you so.”
No one likes to be told what they can and can’t do. As children get older, they want choices; they want to feel like they have some control over themselves. As parents, I believe it’s our job to ease them into those choices, from small ones to larger ones as they near adult hood.
So, when my child asks if they can play ball in the front yard, I say, “Sure, but if you do then you’ll be grounded with no ball to play for a week.”
I haven’t said no, have I? But I’ve also allowed my child to weigh the consequence of the action.
Of course, this isn’t meant for toddlers, but allowing a child to make a choice makes them feel like you’re not trapping them or holding them back from something they feel is their right.
Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t ever allow my child to have or do dangerous things. My little cub scout has requested a pocket knife several times, and each time he’s been denied. Do I tell him no? Some times. On the most part, I tell him, “You can when you’re old enough to handle that responsibility.” And when he asks what age that is, I usually say something like, “It’s not a number, but a state of maturity and proven record of responsible behavior.”
He has to go think about that one. Later, when he comes back to me there’s a new kind of respect in his eyes.
Not every child’s response to their parents the same way. In that above situation, my oldest would have simply stated, “I don’t care.” and make a threat.
Another one of my children got into my make-up bag and made herself pretty for school one morning. I washed her face, and I told her that right now she didn’t need make-up, she’s beautiful the way she is, but if she felt she needed to wear make-up to school, then she would need to wait until she was sixteen as I did. At a tender age of six, this answer was acceptable to her. On the way home from school she had figured out it was nine more years after her next birthday until she could wear eye shadow.
As children get older, rules feel suffocating and they have this need to break free. Do you remember when you’re parents said, “No you can’t do this. You have to do that.”
To a middle grader, it sounds like a broken record and they just tune you out.
I’m not an expert; I’m still trying to figure out this parenting thing like everyone else rising kids. Everyone has an opinion and many have written books on it. I do, however, believe that answer to many parenting problems is, yes.
Yes, I can teach my child between right and wrong.
Yes, I can walk away from the agreement.
Yes, I can raise a child to become a productive member of society.
What yes, can you think to add today?