Saying “NO” to your kids with confidence !
Posted by: Sue Atkins
Saying “No” to your kids is such a simple word but so many parents find it difficult to incorporate it into their discipline strategies – it’s about feeling confident in your own ability as a parent so then the ability to say “no” becomes a powerful behaviour shaping tool in your parenting toolkit!
Parents often find it hard to say “No” to their kids and there are many reasons for this.
One of the reasons is shortage of time. We all seem to be in such a hurry these days. It’s so much easier to give in and buy whatever it is your child wants, rather than to spend time explaining why you won’t buy it or spend time dealing with their sulks when they don’t get it.
But is that the message you want your child to grow up expecting?
Another reason is being afraid of causing a scene. I know it’s easier, to wander around the supermarket with a happy and quiet child who is tucking into their sweets or crisps, rather than dragging a screaming child round while you attempt to do your shopping! But personally I think you can make looking for Postman Pat spaghetti hoops quite exciting, and getting your child involved in helping you look for the butter or helping you to weigh the grapes can be good practical experience and fun! It’s how you approach it.
Try making the whole experience a game and see how creative you can be – get your child to join in not whine – get them engaged.
Another reason is all the resources available to us nowadays .When your child asks for a treat you may think “Well it’s only 80p so it won’t break the bank” and I know we do seem to have more disposable cash splashing about today than perhaps when we were growing up, and many parents don’t think twice about spending it all on their children, but is that a good message to be sending out to your children?
What message are you giving if you continually ‘give in’?
You can have anything you want?
My job is not to judge what you do but to get you be clear about what you want and how you want to bring up your children.
Perhaps the approach of giving in to everything is easier in the short term but is it easier in the long term? Is it creating a child who will have totally unrealistic expectations of you and the world – and will they will expect to get everything they want. Is that realistic or desirable? Is it creating a Paris Hilton?
You can be sure that their requests will get bigger and more expensive as they become aware of all the goodies out there. It’s sweets today, Nike trainers and Gucci purses next!! Tell me about it …. I’ve got a 15 year old daughter!!!!
While you may enjoy indulging your child’s wishes, the world just isn’t like that and your child may be in for a rude awakening when they encounter the many situations in the real world where they actually can’t have what they want. I think it helps if you think of it as your job to preparing them for life with its ups and downs and disappointments.
I just wonder if another message you are sending out is that “It really doesn’t matter how you treat your things – you can always get more”
Children who constantly get new toys and treats too easily learn not to value their things, because they know that they will always be replaced. They lose their sense of awe and wonder for new things if they are continually showered with gifts. It all comes too easily. So their expectations become inflated and they have no sense of gratitude or value for any of the gifts or treats they receive.
I remember my own Mum getting cross with my kids at Christmas a few years ago, as they were so overwhelmed by the amount of presents they received from both sets of Grandparents that they became nonchalant and blasé and she felt they didn’t appreciate what they had and just ripped the paper off, moving too quickly onto the next present.
Perhaps the message your child receives is “I can’t give you much time but I can give you lots of ‘things”
If this is the message your child is receiving don’t be surprised if they don’t place any value on these things or show any gratitude at getting all this stuff. ‘Things’ just cannot replace your time. If children do not get the attention and input from you, among other things, they do not develop a sense of their worth. They may feel they are not worth spending time with.
So you might be showering your child with gifts, but actually their self esteem might be diminishing as their stack of toys and “stuff” piles up. Now there’s a thought!!!
Let’s look at treats and the message we sometimes send out with those….
“If you get upset, don’t worry we’ll get you a little treat”
The child who always receives a treat when they start to cry and shout or get hurt is learning a dangerous lesson. Other children and the outside world will not be as generous as you.
So just ask yourself….
How will my child cope as an adult in a world where they most definitely won’t always get their way?
It’s all a balance between “yes” and “no,” and it takes practise if you are new to saying “No” and taking a harder line.
So start practising saying “no” to requests for things like sweets, toys and treats from time to time so you keep them for special occasions when your child will value them much more.
Initially it may be difficult as your toddler or teen may have trouble believing that you really mean” no,” because in the past this wasn’t the case. They will probably throw a wobbly, but remember the bigger picture to your parenting – the values you want to teach them and hold on – think about the consequences of giving in.
Distract, explain, smile or move on to something else, but stand firm.
Your child is learning that when you say “no,” you mean it and you are teaching them a valuable and important lesson for life.
Positive Parent Tip
Just step back and reflect on this each time you interact with your children: “Is this teaching my child something I believe to be important?”
• Know how far they can go
• Knowing their boundaries helps kids feel safe
• Boundaries help teach children respect for you, other people and property
• Boundaries teach kids self control
• Boundaries teach them to be responsible adults in the long term
There are lots of reasons why you perhaps find saying “no” difficult perhaps you’re too tired, too busy, feel guilty for some reason , or don’t get backed up by your partner, or were too strict parenting yourself by your own parents, or you have a need to be liked by your kids, or it’s all too much hassle or you may even be confused about what is acceptable but I think it helps to know what loving discipline is and what it’s not!
Setting boundaries for your child is all about:
• Guiding your child’s character not punishing them
• It’s about you being their parents and needing to be a leader and their guide more than their friend
• It’s about consistency and following through to earn respect long term
• And of course It’s about the age and maturity of your individual child
What it’s not!
• Being inconsistent – saying one thing one day and not the next
• Dominating or controlling
• Yelling. Threatening. Criticising
So for this week work out what saying “No” to your kids will teach them and start to notice things that DO work and do more of that, and if you want to discover more ideas, inspiration, strategies and techniques take a look at my The secret to well behaved kids CD and ideas book