Out of the blue the other day, Micah said, “I have a good plan. I will just say No whenever I need to!”
Call me crazy, but I want my kids to say No to me sometimes.
No, it’s not that I want an opportunity to flex my parental muscles. I want an opportunity to prepare them for their future.
I want my kids to learn to say no now, so later they don’t take on more than they can handle.
I want my kids to learn to say no now, so they learn how to create boundaries with other people.
I want my kids to learn to say no now, so they see that “No” is powerful and should be respected, especially if someone is crossing a physical or emotional boundary.
I want my kids to learn to say no to an authority figure, so they learn not to blindly follow, and also to safeguard them from abuse.
I want my kids to learn to say no now, so they learn it’s a word that comes with responsibility, not an empty word that carries no action or response.
In our house, our kids are allowed to say No. But this privilege comes with some rules.
1.) “No” must be said with respect. It cannot be said in an ugly, defiant, or disrespectful way.
2.) We talk it out. They have a chance to explain their reason and/or we have a chance to explain ours. They may not get what they want, but they are still allowed to express it.
It’s important to Davy and I that we show our kids that their No’s will also be respected, even of they don’t get their way. We don’t laugh at them or get riled up when they say it, and sometimes we do give them a break, if they say it the right way.
For example, this last week I asked Micah to run get me a diaper. He was playing, and I (admittedly) didn’t want to get up. He responded, “oh, no thanks, mommy.” Instead of insisting, I just acknowledged his No and got one myself. This reinforced that No can be powerful if used properly, while showing him that authority figures can respect his No. It also showed him that I value his time and what he’s doing, even when it came into conflict with my own time and actions. Giving my kids that mutual respect creates a more open, helpful, and caring atmosphere.
Of course, I haven’t touched on if they shoot a No at us in a totally disrespectful way, but I think that’s for another post. What I wanted to get at here is that No isn’t an enemy word. It’s a friend that we need to cultivate and train so that our kids can grow to be healthy adults.