Mama S here. The third post in this series about how we respond to P. Saying YES as often as we can. I was chatting with a friend the other day and we were talking about how we feel when we hear the word no. How we feel when we hear that we can’t do what we want. As an adult, how does it feel when you have the best idea ever and you pitch it to your boss and they say no. How does it feel when you tell your partner that you want to do something with them on Friday night and they look at you and say No? Doesn’t feel good does it? It stinks even if you can reason out why they are saying no. Your boss may go on to explain that it isn’t in the budget. Your partner may say they already had plans. Still stinks to hear no!
Now, Imagine you are a tiny person with zero reasoning ability and you hear NO the majority of the day. Would you get grumpy too?
- I’m not saying that we have to become floor mats for our kids and just say yes all the time. In fact, that sounds like a HORRIBLE idea as they will never learn patience and understanding for other people. So, what am I saying then? I’m saying that perhaps we shift the hard NO to a “not today, but XYZ”, “not now, but XYZ”, “What is your second option?” etc.
Mama A and I are doing this constantly. The biggest one is around sweets. P asks every day if she can have cake, ice cream, cookies, bars, straight sugar, you name it. Every. Day. Some days the answer is a “Not today, how about we make cookies this weekend.”, sometimes it is a “What about a popsicle?”, often time is reminding her about an event that is coming up that there will be sweets at (there are so many now days) and asking if she would prefer to have something today or would prefer to wait until the party when she can have XYZ. The trick is, if she chooses today, when you get to that event in a few days and she wants something then, we remind her that she chose the item the earlier day and stand firm.
That last one needs to be shouted from the rooftops and printed on every billboard. Instead of saying NO, give them a choice that you are OK with either option.
They want to go to a friend’s house but they can’t because you have to leave at 7am to go somewhere, you could ask if they would rather go to the friend’s house the following weekend or invite that friend over on XYZ day.
They want to eat pizza for dinner tonight. You can explain that the tacos are on the stove but ask if they would prefer to have pizza on Friday night or Saturday night.
They want the newest shoes. You can ask if they would prefer those new shoes for their birthday or if they would prefer to choose a different option for birthday gift and keep the shoes they have.
Notice that all those are NO, but in ways that don’t make it seem that way.
Sometimes it is a hard no. There are times when she asks to do something and the answer is no and there is no way to get around it. In those instances we start with the explanation of why the answer is going to be a no. “I would love to allow you to do XYZ, however it is not safe, we discussed this previously and what had we decided then, you agreed to do XYZ with this person and you have to honor your commitments, etc.”
This. This is why P thinks that I’m not the strict one. She very rarely gets what she wants the day/minute/week that she wants it due to scheduling, finances, plans, or, and this one should be talked about too, because I just want her to have to wait to get things. Not because I’m mean, but because delayed gratification is a skill everyone needs to learn.
With technology kids are used to instant gratification. With drive-throughs we don’t have to wait to get food. And the list goes on and on. Sometimes I will use some of the examples above to help wire her brain to be patient. As long as her basic needs are met, she can wait 20 minutes until dinner is ready to eat. She may need to hear what we are making and that if, after we are done eating our full dinner, she is still hungry she can eat that XYZ, but she needs to learn to wait.
I’m constantly blown away by the kiddos that we see that don’t have the ability to wait! Try some of these strategies and see how that works for you. It will be hard at first. So hard! When P came to us she had ZERO ability to wait. She wanted what she wanted the exact second she asked for it and was instantly upset if she didn’t get it. We went so far as to have a conversation about the fact that we still love her even when we make her wait! The options helped a lot in soothing those fears.
I encourage you to listen to how you respond to situations where people/peers/children/family members ask you something and you have to say no. If you struggle hearing it in the moment, record yourself and play it back later. Pay attention to how you react when people say no to you, then see how often you can shift that no to a more Yes based reaction without giving in to the demand that you are looking to avoid.
Please share your stories with us! We would love to hear them!
As always, if you are enjoying the blog, please share!