Saying “no” to our children is a hard thing to do, because the child doesn’t want to hear it and a tantrum will result later.
Tantrums have built themselves a bad reputation, and I have spoken earlier about avoiding tantrums; but they can be a learning opportunity. A child who never tantrums, never learns.
A child needs to learn what is ok and what is not ok. So they are constantly seeking that threshold. Is it ok to throw a ball? Is it ok to throw my clothes? Is it ok to throw the cat? Unfortunately, they don’t know until they try and see our reaction.
At some point, they are going to reach the limit of what is ok, and at that point we have to say “no” and then stick with it.
Imagine this situation; a young child gets a hold of something they shouldn’t have (bag of candy, scissors, a fragile vase) and the parent tells them that they can’t have that. The child screams, and the parent relents and says, “ok, but only if you….”. What should have happened is the parent should have said, “Sorry, but the answer is “no”. You can’t have that.” The child will scream for a moment, but the parent can also help the child with breathing, calming down, distraction, etc.
Consistency is key in raising children. Children want to find the limit and the only way to find that line is to test it. They want their parents to be consistent in saying “no”. They actually thrive for that. You have seen it before. Your child throws a toy (fork, rock, etc.) and you remind them that “it is not safe and not to do it again.” They do it one more time to test that limit. You remind them that if they do it again, then the toy will be removed or the child will be removed from the situation. Inevitably, the child does it again. Why? Because they need to know that you are serious about that limit. They need to hear you say “no”.
Now saying “no” has also gotten a bad reputation because a lot of parents don’t want a ton of negativity in their young child’s life. I completely agree with that. It is wonderful to teach limits to your child without saying “no”. But here’s the key- you have to be consistent. So if your words are “Remember, you need to be gentle with your bother”. Then when your child isn’t gentle, you need to say, “I’m sorry that you weren’t able to be gentle, let’s try again another time.” For some parents, it will be easier to be consistent by saying “no”.
As long as the child is able to learn limits, both styles are great.
What happens when a parent doesn’t do this and often gives in to their young child’s desires? The child becomes a teenager and later an adult who has to have anything they want. They won’t hear someone say “no” in very delicate situations (alcohol, drugs, sex) and they will have more difficulty in making positive choices.
It seems hard to take these steps with a young child, but it is so much easier when the question is candy and fragile vases versus drugs and alcohol at a later date.
If you need help implementing these ideas, contact me today!
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