The Power of Saying “Yes” to Your Child

Ever feel like sometimes you find yourself telling your children “no” a lot?

The habit of making “no” your automatic response sometimes just seems easier, because a child’s requests might seem likely to cause more of a mess, stress, or complications to deal with.

A clarifying new outlook can be found from taking the challenge to try to say “yes” to your children whenever possible.

Why Say Yes to Your Children More

Many parents find that saying yes more to their children, helps their children to be more accepting of the times when they have to say no. The more you can say yes and support a child’s natural desires for information and experience, the stronger a relationship of trust and connection you will build with your child.

Amy Monroe, founder of Tapestry (an adoption and foster care ministry) shared the following in her blog: “During a recent Saturday at home with my kids, I committed to giving them as many “yes’s” as possible. Trust me, this wasn’t easy, but I need the practice and they need this gift. Throughout the course of that day I was intentional about catching myself before each and every “no” I was about to give. As I stopped to think every time I considered saying “no,” I asked myself a simple question: Can I give my child a joyful “yes” instead?” Amy goes on to share that she found that saying yes more often helped her build trust with her children.

Saying Something Different from No

There are certainly times when children need their parents to firmly say “no.” Other times when a parent cannot just say yes to something, he or she might still be able to say yes in a different way. In her book, Kids are Worth It, Barbara Coloroso, shares three alternatives to saying no that can be given to children:

  • Saying “Yes, but later.” For example, you might say, “yes you can play outside, but after you help clean up your toys.” By doing so, you are “avoiding unnecessary power struggles, teaching your children what is acceptable, and continuing to work with- instead of against- your children.”
  • Say, “Let me think about it” or “Give me a minute.” Help your child see that you can’t always give an immediate answer. Coloroso says, “When you take time to ponder the request and consider the consequences, you can formulate a carefully thought-out response. This also models for children the skill of taking time to think about answers in a society that emphasizes ‘hurry up.’”
  • Say, “Convince me” or “Let’s talk about it.” Ask your child for more detail to get a better understanding of what you are agreeing to.

According to Coloroso, “All of these alternatives to “no” model a respectful attitude toward your children, even if they don’t always result in your granting them their wishes.”

Kayla North, a writer for Empoweredtoconnect.org, shares how she made a “Yes Jar” for her children at http://empoweredtoconnect.org/the-yes-jar-video/. The video is below.

To help her give her children more opportunities for “yes” answers, she filled a large jar with healthy snacks, cheap and small toys, fidgets, and little treats that she could promise to always say yes to during the day. This helped her children to feel like they could count on their needs being met, and avoid wanting to sneak things they weren’t allowed to have.  

“Whenever possible say yes. They are only kids once!” -Marjorie Pay Hinckley

» Click to show image sources

References

Monroe, A. (2017). The privilege of saying yes. Retrieved from: http://empoweredtoconnect.org/the-privilege-of-saying-yes/

Nicholson, P. (2017). Say yes to fewer no’s. The Center for Parenting Education. Retrieved from: http://centerforparentingeducation.org/library-of-articles/discipline-topics/say-yes-fewer-nos/.

Radicchi, R. (2016). Why I’m saying yes to my kids more. Retrieved from: http://ungrind.org/2015/saying_yes_to_kids_more/

For some good reads about saying yes to your children, see the following:

http://centerforparentingeducation.org/library-of-articles/discipline-topics/say-yes-fewer-nos/

http://empoweredtoconnect.org/the-privilege-of-saying-yes/

http://www.naeyc.org/tyc/article/unplanned-explorations-lively-minds

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