Be a Yes Mom

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.

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  1. Love this! Thanks for this post. Needed to read this today! 🙂

  2. Rebekah Shaver says:

    So TRUE!!! I realized this past week that I was saying “NO” a LOT too. I had been REALLY sick for many months and it was all I could do to manage the essentials like FEEDING, diapering, laundry, housework, and SAFETY. As soon as I started to feel better this week I said yes to play dough. I honestly think my kids almost passed out! 😉 They were ECSTATIC!! It made me aware that I REALLY needed to say, “YES” more often. I hadn’t realized how hard all the “no’s” were on my kiddos. Praise the Lord my health is returning because now I can be a “yes” Mom too!! 🙂

  3. Totally agree. Reminds me of a poem I found years ago when my children were little. I have posted it on my website today with a link to this blog post. Thanks for sharing this.

  4. YES!! I realized this early on in my parenting thankfully. I do really try not to say no unless it really is something that would not be good to do/have. I let my kids have snacks, I let them play messy games, I let them do a lot of things, and I think that it is good for them. Sometimes it inconveniences me, but that is why I am here–to be their mother.

  5. I have learned to sacrifice a really clean kitchen and many cups of flour to say yes to cooking & baking attempts lately. If you learn to say yes to things now, it will be easier to say yes to bigger things as they get older. In no time at all, can I play with playdoh becomes can I go shopping with friends, to the movies, buy expensive things with my own money, go overseas on a missions trips, join the military, …the list is endless. I have the joy of saying yes to a little one who still loves playdoh, teen girls with aspirations to become really good in the kitchen and young adults who are spreading their wings. Excellent reminder!

  6. Thank you for posting this. I am most definitely a “NO” mom…and I need to be more of a “YES” mom.

  7. Ooooh, were you talking about yourself, ….. or about ME?

    Sad to say, I’m definitely a ‘too often saying NO mum’, and you are so right to post on this and to encourage us in saying Yes more often.
    Thanks, Anne x

    • TheHappyHousewife says:

      Well… I was talking about me. But I figured if I needed to hear it, someone else probably did too. 😉

  8. After a period of sick leave, my husband returned to work this week and my daughter really missed him being home. I’ve been trying to pick my fights with her this week (LOL!) even if it did mean closing the door on her once or twice to avoid shouting or saying no! I think it did help but it’s more difficult to do than you think, so thanks for the timely post.

  9. Wow!!!!! I just came across your blog not even 5 mins after I said yes to something I really didn’t want to……my son got one of those absolutely pure sugar ring pops in his Valentine bag this week and I almost threw it away. Just a few mins ago, I asked him to sit down and practice lowercase letters and he says, ” Mommy, can I have my ring pop while I write?” I said no initially and then within seconds, I said “Sure, we won’t eat the whole thing, but yes you can have it while you finish your worksheet.” Much to my surprise, he actually said “Thank you Mommy for letting me do that” with surprise in his voice. He is a polite kid, but we still have issues trying to say thank you all the time. He was shocked to hear my response and I was equally shocked to hear a thank you so quickly….I was meant to read!!!! Thank You!

  10. I really needed to hear this too…. I’m a mom to 6 and it seems all I do is say No….. Thanks for posting this…

  11. Thank you for posting this. Luckily I have been able to benefit from my sisters example of raising my 7 year old nephew and switching from a “no” mom to a “yes” mom. I have been working hard to let go of the knee jerk response of no to my 18 month old daughter. It actually makes my days easier! I’m not arguing with a toddler and we have very few tantrums when I say yes to the little things.

  12. I just found your site and I LOVE IT! Being a YES MOM is just what I needed…you have given me and my kids a blessing! My goal is to be more positive this year and this takes the cake! Thank you for making my year. With 4 little ones it is so easy to just say no…but I will be saying YES a lot more now. Thank you!

  13. I stumbled upon your site today looking for crockpot chicken recipes. This is so absolutely something I needed to read right now. Thanks a million, and I look forward to future posts…and catching up on old ones in the meantime 😉

  14. Gosh, I suppose we just don’t realize how often we do this. I have noticed how much I do say no or postpone but now I try to get up and put forth my best effort! Thank you for the post.

  15. Rebecca says:

    You are wise beyond your years my young friend! Thanks for sharing, I just told the boys, Yes you may jump on the trampoline with the sprinkler running under it!

  16. It goes beyond just saying yes, to being positive in general (giving thanks, compliments, encouragement, etc.). A parenting book I read suggested to keep track of the ratio of negative things to positive things said — and to aim for a ratio of 1 to 20!! I have been trying that with my son the past week, and it really does make a difference!!

  17. Okay, this just broke my heart. I grew up the youngest but an only child since my siblings are 15 years old than me. By the time I came around my parents were so busy with work and other things I often heard no from them. I remember being so frustrated with it growing up. And yes I’ll admit that a very low point in my life when I tried to reach out to my mom and get help, she said she was too busy (working on a crossword puzzle). That was the last straw for me feeling unloved by people and I went in my room and slit my wrists. Things did change greatly in my life after that, but my mom was still a no mom, still is to this day. I fought tears reading this and not wanting to be that way with my boys. My son is struggling with daddy being gone and he doesn’t need my no’s making it harder on a daily basis. I am so happy I read this. I know I won’t change over night either, but I will do my absolute best to work on this!! Thank you!!

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