Why “Yes” Works: Taking a Break from Being a Constant “No” Parent

Consider the following as they relate to this week’s topic.


16-year old boy:

I have to argue with my mom because, no matter what I ask her, her first answer is always no. And if I calmly accept that, she’ll never let me do anything because she’ll think that saying no to me is okay. So, I argue even if I know that what I want is something she’d never let me do. That way, when I ask for more reasonable things, maybe she’ll say yes!


Driving home from soccer practice at 8:00 PM on a week night: 

Take 1: 

12-year old girl:

Mom, could we maybe go to the trampoline place tomorrow and invite Emma?

Exhausted mom:

Sure. That would be so fun for the two of you.

 

Take 2:

12-year-old girl:

Mom, could we maybe go to the trampoline place tomorrow and invite Emma?

Exhausted mom:

No, those places are a waste of money and kids are always jumping into each other and bonking heads.

12-year-old-girl: 

PULEASSEEE! I never get to do ANYTHING fun! You’re so mean!


 At my one-year old’s birthday party, my niece pulled on my skirt to get my attention and quietly asked, “Can I please have a slice of cake?” I smiled and nodded, but as soon as she walked off with her plate, my sister hollered at her from the other room, “Jackie, please put that down, you already had something sweet today!” I initially laughed, but then I realized my sister was being serious. It was confusing, really. I mean, how do you say no to your child for something as harmless as a small slice of cake, and at a birthday party no less? Now, I know I’ll have to say no to my daughter eventually about something at some point in her youth, but I do hope I can trust her to make her own decisions.

Chances are that you remember being a kid and asking your parents to go to a friend’s house and promptly being denied. There were probably even times when you were told no before even finishing the question! Denying your child is already hard enough, but completely ignoring their needs and requests can be problematic. Always saying no can stump a child’s sense of independence and give way to power struggles. So, how do you put an end to saying no all the time?

We know that parenting is incredibly challenging, and in today’s world, being the parent you always wanted to be can be even harder.  There’s nothing wrong with asking for a little help!

 

Saying Yes Doesn’t Automatically Mean Spoiling

Saying yes builds relationships and opens doors. Click To Tweet

Do you worry that if you say yes to your children’s requests, you’re being overindulgent or creating spoiled kids (aka brats)? Let me help you think this through from a different angle.

If you always say yes, then there could be an issue, but most kids are faced with having to wait, not being allowed to or have things that they want, being too small to ride the big kid rides at Busch Gardens or told that they need to stop watching Netflix and go to bed. So, the next time you’re tempted to say no just because you can, consider how many no’s your child has already had to contend with today.

If kids are polite, work hard and are responsible, it’s great to reward them with a yes answer for their reasonable requests. I’m sure you set limits in other areas and when their requests are outlandish or simply not doable. It’s so refreshing to hear a parent just say yes and not put their child in the position of constantly feeling like they have to negotiate.

Saying yes builds relationships and opens doors. If your child is too little to use a sharp knife, instead of saying, “No, you’re too little”, how about, “I can see that you want to cut that apple by yourself. That’s great! Let’s find a knife that’s just your size so you can do it on your own.”

Implement the Cause/Effect Approach

The world is a barrage of cause and effect. For example, if we perform well at our job, then we get paid, or if we pay our bills on time, we won’t have to worry about bad credit or losing our utilities. This approach can also apply to your kids. If you’re being bombarded by requests, let them know that they’ll be able to do what they want once they’ve finished their tasks. Does little Jimmy want to watch TV? As long as all of his homework is done and correct, then sure! This will make your children realize that you might say yes more often if their chores or tasks have been completed.

Have a Little Chat

If your child makes a request and you want to say no, give them a chance to discuss it with you. Click To Tweet

If your child makes a request and you want to say no, give them a chance to discuss it with you. When they do so, it’s important that you actually take the time to listen and ask them the following questions:

  • Why do you want to do this?
  • If you do it, what are some things you should remember to do?
  • Is there any way I can help you do this?

If you decide to accept after hearing your child out, it’s just as important that you’re confident in their decision. This will help them realize that they have a voice within your family and you’re not a tyrant waiting to say no to them at all times.

Let Us Help

If you’ve noticed that your constant no’s have put a strain in your relationship with your child, it may be time to do something about it. At Rice Psychology Group, we believe the best way to strengthen your family’s relationship is to take an active role for improvement. Our Tampa-based team of psychologists is ready to help you take the first step towards a healthier relationship. Come visit us in Tampa or give us a call for more information.

About Rice Psychology

Rice Psychology Group is home to a team of psychologists who work tirelessly to help adults, adolescents and children deal with their issues. Whether you’re currently dealing with depression, going through a divorce or fighting an issue you just can’t understand, know that our Tampa psychologists are here to help.

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