Do you feel like you are saying “no” to your children all the time? No! No? Noooo! Sometimes we use this word so much that it loses its value. If you think about it these are two powerful letters that when they are put together they create an instant reaction. The problem is that the reaction is not always the one we were looking for. Sometimes after hearing “no”, people feel discouraged, angry, disappointed, or trapped. It’s more than OK and important to learn boundaries and to say NO, actually I believe NO is too valuable of a word to waste it when it is NOT needed. Today I’m going to share five alternative ways to say no to our children, so when we say NO it means NO.
Here are the alternatives…
Children change their minds quite often and quite fast.
What they want in one minute they don’t want in the next one. Sometimes they just need extra time to realize it and even forget what they were asking for in the first place. A “maybe later” gives them the chance to forget about it if what they were asking for in the first place was not of great importance.
This is one of my favorite alternatives. Instead of “no” say YES!
Let me give you a few examples:
Child: Mom can I have an ice-cream?
Mom: Yes, if you do the chores and your homework first.
Teen: Mom can I have a phone?
Mom: Yes if you can sign the contract. 😉
Whisper Voice: It works like a charm!
“What about if instead you…”
Give children other options to think about. Most of the time children are asking for something because they are bored or they can’t think of other alternatives. Options give them choices, and choices give them accountability.
Example: Maybe you don’t feel comfortable with them going to someone’s place BUT what about if instead that “someone” comes to your house!
Oh the possibilities!
Let’s talk about it…
Most of the time the word “no” implicates end of discussion. It closes the door to a huge world of learning and sharing. “No” is the answer to a question… Right? Then why don’t we take advantage of teaching and answering our children when they ask us these questions?
Most of the time we say NO because we don’t feel that whatever our child is asking is the best for him or her at that given moment. No matter if the question is as simple as “can I have another cookie?” or more scary ones such as “can I go to the party?” Instead of automatically saying NO we can take advantage and open a conversation with our kiddos. We can talk to them about the importance of good nutrition or even about more scary things such as dating, drinking, or growing up in general. The point is not to waste a great opportunity to teach, to guide, and to communicate, with the use of a “NO”.
Why would I do that?
This was my mom’s favorite alternative to “no” for those moment when her mother’s intuition said “danger”. I remember clearly one occasion when I was a teen and I was arguing with her because she wouldn’t allow me to go to a late party. Instead of arguing back she took me outside where our car was parked and told me something I will never forget:
Mama: “Desi, look at our car. Even though it is old, every night I double check and make sure that it is locked, and the alarm and the steering wheel lock is on. The truth is that I don’t want anything to happen to my car. I don’t want my car to end up in a place where it doesn’t belong. Now, Desi how much more important do you think you are to me than my car?
Me: “A lot more important”
Mama: “Then, if I LOVE YOU SO MUCH and you are of endless value to me why would I do that? Why would I let you go to a party where you don’t belong?”
After that time “why would I do that?” became more than a question it was another sentence for “I love YOU” for “You are of endless value to me”.
Now friends, if none of the ones above work you can always tell them “no” in Spanish… Which is “NO!” 🙂
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