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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Don't Jump to No!

Do you jump to NO?  I do and I know I'm not alone.  My mom even admitted to me recently that she did when us kids were at home.  And my BFF Mary confessed to jumping to No just today at lunch.  Do you know what I mean?  Your lovely child asks you something and without even thinking you "just say no."  (Maybe we should blame Nancy Regan!) 

So why do we jump to No and how do we stop?  

I think we jump to No out of years of practice and conditioning.  Let's be honest, these kids ask for a lot and,  especially when they are little, we have to say no a lot.  Can I jump on my bed? No.  Can I have ice cream for dinner?  No.  Can I run in the street?  No.  So you see, they have given us good reason to say no out of reflex and habit.  They have created the monster!

Now to the more important thing -- how do we fix it???  I think there are two solutions here for this dilemma:
First, when you find you have jumped to No be honest with your kids.  In our home we don't negotiate with our kids.  Once we say No to something we never go back on our decision.  And I mean NEVER.  The reason is obvious.  Once you let them wear you down with begging and pleading you have set a precedent and they are bound to beg, plead and pester from here til the end of time.  Some of my favorite phrases to shut down the pleading:

"This isn't a conversation."   
"Asked and answered." 
"No pestering."  
"Not open for discussion."  

Honestly my girls are pretty well trained and one well placed LOOK will usually stop the pestering.  I have watched friends tell their kids no and then proceed to argue and negotiate with them for 20 minutes and then give in and they wonder why their kids don't take no for answer.  

However, sometimes my girls will ask me something and I'll just say no without even really thinking about it. In that case I have reversed my decision, not because they asked again but because I re-thought my jumpy No and decided there wasn't a valid reason for it.  I find that it is best in these cases to just be honest.  For example:

One time last year Haley asked me if she could go to a movie with some friends on a Sunday afternoon.  I said No.  She didn't pester or plead but I could tell she wasn't happy with the decision.  A few minutes later I went to her and said very honestly "I don't know why I said no.  I'm not available to drive you because your sister has a soccer game but if you have a ride to and from the movies, you can go." 

I think we both learned from the experience.  She learned that I really try not to say No just for the sake of saying No and I learned that I can reverse my decision as long as it isn't a response to pleading and begging. 

The second solution is easier said than done.  Count to 10 before answering.  If your kids ask you something, take a deep breath, count to ten before you answer.  I know for me that is a challenge but I think I am up for it.  

As I said in my little bio on this blog, I have had my bad-mom moments, more than I'd like to admit.  Hopefully this admission of my premature No-ing will help me (and maybe you) have fewer of them.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is great advice. Not only should parents use this with children, but wives should implement it with husbands. Don't jump to NO. Say YES a little more often.