I periodically go on a “Don’t say no diet” and it works for a while and all is well. Then there are days when my child has too many requests and I forget and fall off the “Don’t say no too much” wagon.
And since it’s intuitive to say no or yell stop when kids are annoying, I have to keep reminding myself to be counter intuitive, take a deep breath and think of clever ways to handle too many requests without saying no.
The first day of not saying no is hardest, then I go for the week till it becomes a habit yet again. I try to replace “no” with a message – that I am thoughtfully considering the options. And I replace NO with trying to figure out the feelings and meaning underneath the multiple requests.
In case you are wondering why you should bother trying not to say no, it’s because “no” really hurts kids feelings. Saying no too much and all the time leads to more misbehavior, meltdowns and anxiety. The reason behind this is because saying no constantly leads to a build up of hurt feelings that underlay misbehaving.
Keep in mind I am not suggesting that you dismiss setting limits with your kids. What I am suggesting is a kinder less hurtful way of limiting because kids do need limits and structure. The word NO can also be a way of over-controlling our kids and without realizing it, it can backfire. In some families, saying no too much, and too quickly, contributes to hitting, misbehaving and tantrums, etc.
I am sorry to disappoint you, maybe another time, or maybe when you are older
“Okay, I see you have been asking for so many things, or fighting so much with your brother. Instead of my saying NO or STOP it all day, how about we figure out what feelings are making you ask for so much today?
What do you really need? A hug? Am I distracted, do you need some time alone with me to play so you have my full attention? Or are you sad or hurt or disappointed about something? Let’s figure it out together. It’s hard to share my time with everyone or to share your toys. I’m here to help you!”
For more conversation starters try Book Listen To Me Please