3 Reasons to Say ‘No’ to No
“No” is one of the most commonly used words in parenting.
Some of you are nodding your heads in agreement while some of you are shaking your heads. Does “no” really get used that often?
The truth is that the minute babies become toddlers and begin to move around, “no” becomes part of the parenting vocabulary. We use it to alert our children to danger, we use it to stop a sibling squabble or two, we use it to answer many, many questions, and, if we’re being honest, we use it when we’re tired and cranky.
“No” gets thrown around with great frequency. And while some kids respond quickly to “no”, others seem not to hear it at all.
How can it be that one of the most frequently used words in parenting often goes unheard? Simply put: overuse.
Below are three reasons to say no to no.
Loss of meaning:
When no is used frequently throughout the day to answer requests big and small, it begins to lose its meaning. Once a powerful word reserved to signify pending danger, it becomes just another word that mom and dad say. When children hear “no” frequently, they begin to tune it out.
You need “no” to retain its meaning. There will come a time when your child runs into the streets, attempts to jump from a couch (or something worse), or wanders off in a public place. When danger is near, you need “no” to have meaning.
Negativity is contagious:
People always reference the fact that smiling is contagious. When those around you are happy and smiling, you feel happy too. It works both ways.
Negativity, in the form of anger or depressed affect, is contagious. If you struggle to remain positive, yell and argue frequently, and lead with pessimism, your children will do the same.
There is a reason we jump up and down and cheer when our toddlers fall: It removes the fear and lessens the pain. When they see that we aren’t worried, they pick themselves up and try again. This works at every age and every stage. Sure, we all have bad days. But when the bad days outnumber the good and the “no’s” outnumber the “yes’”, our children suffer for it.
We have to focus on the good and rely on positive interaction.
It won’t extinguish the behavior:
“No” is a temporary fix. A Band Aid when danger is near. It will stop a behavior in the moment.
But it won’t extinguish the behavior.
I hear parents make the same argument over and over again: Kids don’t need explanations; kids just need rules. The truth is that kids do need some explanations. They need brief, short and to the point, explanations, but they need explanations. Kids test limits and take risks because that is part of growing up. It’s very much tied into moving toward independence.
When you just say “no”, they hear that they can’t do anything fun or adventurous. When you explain that jumping from the bookshelf is likely to result in a broken arm, they hear that there is a reason to think it through first. Talk it out. Help your child learn to stop and think before acting by providing some much needed information.
Are you willing to take the “no” challenge and say no to no? Can you go three days without using “no” unless danger is present?