When your children ask you a question is your first response more likely to be yes, or no? For many years my first response was always no.
“No- you cannot have a snack, no – you cannot paint, no – you cannot play outside, no – you cannot get out such and such toy…”
Then a few years ago I read an article about saying yes to your kids more often than you say no.
The article made me realize that sometimes when I said no it was because of my own desires, my own selfishness. I am not talking about saying no to playing with matches or riding their bikes across the interstate. These were little things they wanted to do, that might have inconvenienced me, just a tiny bit. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted my no’s to be about big things, so that my children understood that my no’s were a big deal. Sometimes, we say no to our children with such frequency, that they stop asking, or even worse don’t take our no’s seriously.
I wish I could say that after reading the article, I immediately began saying yes more often to my children, but that would be untrue. I struggled with putting their wants above my wants. Instead of saying no I would say; maybe, in a minute, perhaps in a while, or let me think about it. Then one day my young son responded to my “in a minute” by looking at his older brother and saying, “you know what that means….. no!” I realized I hadn’t changed my ways at all, I just changed my method.
I still am not the yes mom that I would like to be, but I say yes a whole lot more. I am more open to painting projects, crafts, baking, science experiments, and play-do. I am more willing to stop what I’m doing and watch a puppet show or read someone a book. I have learned to draw princesses and fairies and can color a mean picture. I have even put aside my fears and helped catch bugs, lizards, frogs, and other critters my boys find fascinating. I might never have a love for all things green and slimy as they do, but my interest lies in them and what makes them happy.
Today, when your little one asks you a question and you are tempted to say no, say yes. Your children will be pleasantly surprised.
This post was originally published November 2008.