Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Power of NO in Parenting

I was babysitting for my 14 month old grandson Liam some years ago now. And it became obvious again that his parents had taught him well about things that are not OK. He'd point at something like a plug or the computer and say "No," (sometimes Nah but we know what he means). It's pretty fun, really,  but it also shows that he can grasp the idea even at his young age.

However, he's also very human and so wants to see if he can push past the roadblock.  He tried several ways to get me to say yes as he reached for some DVDs near our television.  First, he just touched them and then looked at me to see what I'd do or say.  So I repeated "No" to him calmly.  He tried that several times but to no avail.

Then he went for the "cute" option.  He would pucker up his face and then smile at me while reaching for the treasure. I had to work at not starting to laugh. Thankfully he didn't push it too far and I was able to move him on to something we could have fun with together.

Of course, rules, discipline and guidelines always have to be considered in light of a child's age and maturity but too many parents seem to have this fear or at least reticence to tell their kids "no." I spoke with a man just the other day who told me exactly that about his teenage son.  "It's so hard to say 'no' to him." And I could identify because we don't want to be the parent of doom or have our kids upset with us.

However, having concrete boundaries and clear rules actually help our children to function more freely and have more fun doing the things they can do. It's when they don't know the rules or the rules are always changing that they begin to fear us more and wonder when the gavel will come crashing down on them again.

Secondly, saying "no" helps prepare them for the real world.  No one gets to do everything.  And yet if kids grow up getting to make all their own decisions and rarely getting turned down for anything they'll expect that from their work, family and friends as adults.

In fact, there's a line you might use when you have to make a decision on the spot but aren't sure if you should say no or not.  Maybe you simply haven't had time to think about it or to talk with your spouse.  Try this.  "If you need an answer right now, the answer is 'no.'  If you need an answer in fifteen minutes the answer is maybe."

Now you have an opportunity to think about the wisest decision. Most of the time your kids don't have to have an answer on the spot even though they may think they do.  But it's better to wait and make the right call rather than just give in.

So when it's appropriate and needed . . . just say "no."  It's not so bad.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

No comments:

Post a Comment