Have you observed how saying “NO” to your kids ticks them off? Well, you can’t be a ‘Yes’ mom all the time but there can be ways to deny and avoid a meltdown.
Learning to hear No is also very important and essential for the emotional development of young children. Many times, parents just allow kids to have their way to avoid a meltdown. They prefer peace and see agreeing to any demand as a temporary solution.
But bear in mind that you want your kid to become a mature and responsible adult and giving in to their demands might not help them with that.
You must let go of the guilt of being a bad parent to deny a small wish that your kid is demanding and stick to being strong and positive.
So how do we say No without being labeled as a diktat? Because just saying No is not enough, how to say No is also a very crucial part of parenting.
Following are a few situations when saying ‘No’ is inevitable and how you can effectively say it without creating much drama:
1. When there is harm involved.
If there is a situation where there can be harm or hurt (eg., sibling rivalry if you don’t stop it, then saying ‘NO’ becomes mandatory. But keep in mind to offer them an alternate solution to their denied wish. For example, “No, you cannot wear my glasses. They have power and can ruin your eyesight. You can try the sunglasses, they are harmless.” Acquainting them about the consequence and at the same time ascertaining that they are not completely deprived can save you from a tantrum following your ‘no’.
2. A wish that must wait.
I have very calmly ingrained that toys can only be bought on special occasions. Though mostly, they choose toys to be bought on their next birthdays, sometimes they get overwhelmed. But saying a firm No is essential. No matter how much they plead you must be firm on your set limit.
3. Definitive Answer.
No can be as frustrating as ‘probably not’ or ‘we’ll see’ can be. However, there are occasions when you are genuinely unsure about the answer. During those times it is better to briefly explain to them the reason behind the uncertainty. But when it is No, give a firm and authoritative No.
4. Change of plans, and priority.
You planned an outing to the beach with kids but received a last-minute birthday party invite from a very close relative. Of course, kids are going to whine and fuss, but if going to your aunt’s birthday party is your priority a firm ‘no’ should be in place. It is again important to clearly make them see the reason. ‘I am sure you were very excited to go to the beach, but Aunt would love to have us on her special day.’
5. When values are in question.
Parents are in self-doubt most of the time wondering if children will just adhere to the beliefs and values they have as an individual or a family. But if you don’t stick to them yourselves, how can the kids understand their importance? For example, “No, you must finish the food. The dessert can wait until the later, but you can’t throw food.” If wasting food is a house rule, the kids need to understand and adhere to those values. Your firm ‘No’ on such stances will also ensure them of your own integrity and seriousness on those beliefs.
Say ‘Yes’ Often
If you are a parent who is mostly saying No, take a pause and observe your own approach. You have to say ‘Yes’ equally, if not more if you want to also put some firm “nos’ in place. It’s okay if there will be a mess, and it’s okay if the homework is not done or the room is not clean. Giving children permission to do things is so good for their development. They will also acknowledge your Nos more if they get that it is not by habit but necessity. Say Yes often!