"Mom, can I...? Dad, can we...?" Every day we are barraged with questions from the little people in our lives. If you are like most, your knee jerk reaction is to say "no". We are so preoccupied with keeping a schedule, refereeing other children, and maintaining our homes that thinking outside the box seems to be something to be avoided at all costs.
If you are wondering whether or not you respond to your child's requests by always saying "no" here are a couple of tell tale signs:
When they are playing with dolls/action figures/other children and they are constantly saying "no"
They stop asking the question and just do what they want (it's the child version of "it's easier to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission"
Your child asks the question and then immediately answers it with your anticipated answer of "no"
When you ask your child a question he, with a twinkle in his eye, responds "no" to you (asking your child questions is covered in this article.)
So what's a parent to do? First, really consider your child's request. Stop what you are doing and think about it. Look them in the eye and give your (well thought out) response. Say "yes" as much as possible. If the request is something that can be accommodated...go for it!
If you have to say "no" follow it up with what they can do or what your want them to do. Here are a couple of examples:
Q: Can we go to the park? A: It's raining outside so we are not going to be able to go today. You can either watch a movie or play with a puzzle. Which would you like to do? (Offering two choices is covered in this article)
Q: Can I have ice cream? A: No, we will be eating dinner soon. You can have ice cream after dinner for dessert.
Q: Can I jump on the bed? A: No, but you can put the couch cushions on the floor and jump on them.
As adults we do not like to be told "no" and our children are no different. They need to feel as if they contribute to things that happen to them. This is an important part of their development and crucial if they are to learn how to be independent thinkers. You will also find that you will be more approachable to your child once you get out of the "No Zone".
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