Parents love to see their kids happy. Especially during the tumultuous times of toddlerhood when their world doesn’t quite make sense, we like to see them as happy as possible. Being a parent is about caring for, and raising, confident, happy and well-rounded kids. To do this sometimes we have hard battles to contend with. One of the hardest parenting skills we have to learn to master is learning to say ‘No’.
Learning to say No isn’t easy but it is one of the best things we can do for our kids. The world we live in is not a world of ‘’yes’’ all the time. In my life I have certainly had more No’s told to me then Yes’s but I’ve also learned so much more from the no’s then the yes’s. It can be hard to watch your kids grasp the understanding of why we say no but they need to learn the importance of it.
I practice my balance of yes and no as often as I can. For instance when my daughter and I make one of our trips to the local dollar store, she will inevitably ask for something, a ‘’treat’’. Sometimes I say yes and sometimes I say no. Almost four years in, and she now understands that for a multitude of reasons she won’t get a treat every time. Sometimes it’s based on behaviour, sometimes it’s because I didn’t bring enough money, and sometimes it’s because I want to practice saying ‘no, we’re not getting a treat today’’ so she understands it’s not an event that will happen all the time.
Why We Must Learn to Say No
When we don’t master this skill, and don’t start early, we set our kids up for failure. Just last week I had two siblings come in to see me at work, aged 10 and 8. They both presented with malformations in their teeth and oral development that were indicative of sever thumb sucking. I asked the girls to which they denied sucking their thumb, I asked a few other questions before mom finally told me both girls were still using pediatric pacifiers every day, all day when not in school. Needless to say I was a little shocked and told both mom and girls that it had to stop immediately since their development was being seriously hindered by the object in their mouth.
I don’t know what I was expecting but I certainly wasn’t expecting mom to outright refuse to do it because ‘’she didn’t want to upset them in anyway and it was just easier to let them have it’’. All this after I explained the serious consequences (like not having any function of 8 permanent teeth and needing serious orthodontic treatment if they didn’t stop ASAP). I looked at her and said ‘’you’re the mother you need to step in and say No’’, a word clearly NOT in her vocabulary.
I hear so many horror stories of parents delaying their retirement or getting into a financial horror story from helping their kids out financially. So many times it seems like such an easy situation to avoid- just say no. I’m not saying we as parents shouldn’t help our kids out but if it put you in a bad situation you’re not actually helping anyone.
Learning to say no is a crucial lesson to teach kids. It helps set boundaries and protects them (and you too sometimes) from dire situations. In my opinion there are too many ‘’yes parents’’ out there, looking to fill some sort of void (maybe they work a lot or feel they put their kid in a tough situation with a move or something) regardless, saying yes too often will only have detrimental effects on both you and your kids.
How do you practice setting boundaries?