Practicing “Yes” Responsibly
by Lara Krupicka
As a mom, I find myself trapped in the mode of saying “No” to every request my youngsters make, simply because their demands are non-stop. I think saying “Yes” means giving in. So inadvertently I become negative and inflexible.
How can we restore balance to parenting? Here are three tips for letting go without letting our children get out-of-hand:
The next time your child asks you for something, pause before responding. If you’re ready to say “No,” then ask yourself Why? Is it because your child would be inconveniencing you? Or is it because of how your child asked? Perhaps the request was an unreasonable one. Whatever the reason, give yourself an opportunity to consider what would have to change about the circumstance to warrant a yes answer. Then, instead of saying, “No,” communicate the needed changes to your child. And when the changes are complete, offer a hearty “Yes, now you may ____.”
Make “Yes” Happen
Look for ways to preempt those requests you’d normally refuse. Surprise your kids with an ice cream sundae dinner for fun (then put out plenty of fruit for toppings). Or plan a special “stay up late” night, inviting them to get into their jammies before dinner and chill together on the couch in front of a fun flick, past the normal “lights out” time. Bending the rules on your own time helps in the flexibility department for other occasions when a “Yes” isn’t possible. When you have to turn down a request for sweets before dinner, you can soften the “No” with a reminder. “Not today. But remember the time when we ate banana splits for dinner. Wasn’t that fun?”
Instead of reaching for the easy refusal the next time your child comes asking, brainstorm an alternative. Not ready to go out and play in the snow just yet? Offer to get out the blankets for a table fort. Can’t play a game because you’re busy folding laundry? Invite your child to sit at your feet and flip the cards for you in a game of Memory.
Sometimes we simply become stuck in patterns. Stepping back and recognizing those habits can help shake us out of the rut. Plus planning ahead to respond differently builds in flexibility. So the next time your child comes to you with a request, try out one of these tips. You might find you’re loosening up in all the right places.
Lara Krupicka is a freelance writer who’s still learning ways to say “Yes” to her three girls ages 7, 10 and 12.