Many parents, especially those with toddlers, can feel very conflicted when their child tells them “no”. As a mother, I remember many days when I felt like all I heard from my toddlers was this negative word. After watching a family member with her children, I began to realize the word “no” can be empowerment for children of all ages.
My husband and his siblings were raised in a “children should be seen and not heard” family. The word “no” was a punishable offense. When my honey and I began our journey of child rearing, we decided to take a different tact. Rather than feeling like the word “no” was a slap in our face, we decided to take a more laid back approach and not take offense at this word. We decided we would rather teach our children how to say no, thus showing them how to take responsibility of knowing their own mind. We believe this is how kids learn. We decided to reason with our oppositional child. Not a popular tactic in his family. We were considered the “marshmallow” parents.
My sister-in-law on the other hand, took the word “no” as a battle cry. It took her until her children were 5 years old to whip them into shape. They became docile and obedient children. The family felt, hands down, she was the better parent. My children, on the other hand, said “no” when they felt like it and were considered “head strong and strong willed”.
Fast forward 10 years, all the children became teenagers. The docile 5 year olds who had learned saying no was a punishable offense became docile and compliant teenagers to not only their parents, but to their teen peers. A docile teenager sounds inviting, doesn’t it? But, is it?
We all know, the teenage years open up a new vista of temptations. The obedient docile children who never learned it was okay to say no had a very hard time saying it to the temptations of youth. They suffered from guilty feelings if they said no to their friends.
Our kids, on the other hand, knew how to say the negative word with impunity. They still faced the same temptations as any other teen, but the lines of communication stayed open with us.
We had to deal with tough subjects like any other parent. Did they run wild and have no sense of self discipline? No, on the contrary. They came to us as sounding boards. Many times, instead of being a good listener and confidant, I would have rather stayed “down by the river of de-Nile” than to discuss those sensitive issues with them. But, when the lines of communication are open, I couldn’t sneak down by that river and park my van and take up residence. I had to buck up and handle honest teenage situations with love and guidance.
When you are faced with a head strong toddler with the word “no” constantly on their lips, realize it’s okay for them to voice their challenge to you. Instead of pulling out your hair, smile and know you are protecting your child. They are learning life lessons from you which will serve them for many years to come. The word “no” can be empowering. When your teenager needs to say no, help them learn how to do it. Keep those lines of communication open, even when you’d rather be down by the river.
- Positive Parenting Tip – How to Super Charge Your Child’s Self Esteem (selfimprovementinformation.com)
- When parents disagree about their adolescent (psychologytoday.com)
- Why A Parent Duct Tapes a Child to a Wall (my.psychologytoday.com)