Yes or No? ~Parent Choices

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by: Nicholeen Peck

Is it easier to tell children yes or no when they ask a question?

The answer to this question could depend on what kind of person you are.

Are you the kind of parent who really likes to be in control of the goings on in the family and don’t like to be bothered with plans changing, outfits changing, or extra work for a new idea?  If you are this kind of person you probably find it is easier to tell the children no when they ask to go play at a friends, finger paint, make cookies, or go swimming.

The Opposite

If you are the kind of parent who feels like it is easier to get the children out from ‘under foot’ by just letting them do what they want in order to offer you more alone time, then you might find it easier to say yes when the children ask you questions like the ones above.  You may also feel like it is easier to let them do what they want so that you are not bothered with lots of whining or parenting problems.

What Do The Children Do?

The answer you give could also depend on how your children respond to answers.

Do your children always obey?  Are they afraid not to obey?  Have you made it so the children don’t really have much choice in what they do?  Are they okay with you making all the plans?  Is that what they are used to?

Do your children nag, pout, whine, or get angry if they don’t get their way?

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Do they never drop the subject once you have said no?  Are they harder to deal with if you tell them no?

What We Learn From This

From the descriptions above it might sound like I am saying, are you bad or worse?  Saying no does not make you bad, and saying yes to questions does not make you worse.  The point is to know your own tendencies.

If you have a habit of saying no because they don’t question your decision or try to counter your authority, you might need an adjustment in the yes direction.  This kind of directional shift will strengthen relationships with your children and show them you really understand when things are important to them.  It will also teach them their ideas have value.

For instance, if your child wants to swim with the neighbor children, but you don’t want to deal with finding the suit so you say no, then you are missing a great opportunity to show your child that you care about her happiness enough to drop what you are doing for a few minutes for her.

If you have a habit of saying yes because your children blow up and you don’t like to deal with all the emotion, or you want to keep the children out of your hair, then you might need a shift in the no direction.

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This kind of directional shift will give your children boundaries and teach them respect for parents, adults and authority.  The child will also have more opportunity to learn self control because he will get the opportunity to accept your no answers from time to time.  He will also learn a vital lesson: things don’t always go your way.

I hear some people thinking: “Well how do you help them learn to accept no answers when they are used to melting down if they don’t get their way?”

It Is Possible!

One of the four basic skills I teach in my Teaching Self-Government program and my book is called “Accepting a No Answer.”

The steps you teach are:

  1. Look at the person
  2. Keep a calm voice, face, and body
  3. Say “okay” or ask to Disagree Appropriately (this is a different skill we teach)
  4. Drop the subject

If you want to know the other four basic skills go to this page for a free download of my companion cards. If you want more information on how to teach this skill or other important skills, refer to the book Parenting A House United.

Check out this video about how to handle tantrums and whining.

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Make A Choice

No matter what kind of parent you are, or what the answer needs to be, make sure your children know the skills to be okay and respect you when you make a decision.

We need to know what kind of parent we are so that we don’t give the wrong message to our children.  Parents are supposed to teach children what is right and wrong, and no and yes answers are part of doing that.  So, don’t fall into a pattern of over-controlling or taking the path of least resistance.  Show your children you take your job as a parent seriously and they will take their responsibility as a child seriously too.

Years ago, when I parented difficult children for the Utah Youth Village, they asked me why I wanted to do foster care.  Then they said, “Because if you just want to do a nice thing for these children, this is not the place for you.  You need to look at parenting these children as a job.  You need to be as responsible for their development as you would be for a business.”

As I pondered on that statement, it made complete sense to me.  If I want to be a good parent or wife I need to look at it as my profession, not just a nice thing to do for other people.  It needs to be something I do for me to and something I study and fine-tune all the time.

Will you take the step toward really planning your parenting so you don’t have to shoot from the hip anymore?

Yes or No?

We will announce our giveaway for Nicholeen’s book, A House United, on the next article. Stay tuned!

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Nicholeen Peck is a mother of four and previous foster parent of many troubled teens . She spends her free time helping families learn the principles of self-government, and happiness. She was featured in a one hour documentary by the BBC called The World’s Strictest Parents, writes for many magazines and blogs and teaches all over the world about calm, effective parenting.

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