We love our kids and want to do right by them. We definitely don’t want to screw them up! And yet, there’s so much going around about how we shouldn’t say “no” to our kids, but should we avoid saying no?
“Don’t hit your sister.”
“Don’t give the bunny too much food.”
“Don’t go down the hall because the baby is sleeping.”
“Just… NO NO NO.”
Sound familiar? If we aren’t careful, we can stop praising our children and become Debbie Downers. We can get so used to only really communicating the negative with our kids that it seems we are criticizing their every move.
We don’t want that. They don’t want that.
On the other hand… we can’t avoid telling our kids no. We can’t endlessly try to find positive spins on negative things. We can’t and shouldn’t try to avoid telling our children things they don’t want to hear.
Here is why you can tell your kids “no” and not be a mean mom
And honestly, I think we moms are quicker to label ourselves than our children are.
Because Positive + Negative = Balanced
There are times situations call for a yes and time they call for a no. If you are generally considerate in how you interact with your kids, you are probably fairly balanced.
Everything isn’t a yes, everything isn’t a no, it’s a balance. Kids often ask for things they know good and well they are not likely to get. You don’t have to say “yes” just to avoid making them mad at you.
Because you don’t use “no” when you want them to DO something
When you want your child to come here, you say “Come here, please.” If you need them to clean their room you’ll say, “Put up your toys then you can go outside.” When you are trying to get cooperation from your kids, don’t start it with a “no.” That’s when you start feeling negative all day.
“No, don’t run away, come here” or “No you can’t leave your room, clean up” are the types of phrases that make us feel a bit like Debbie. When you need them to do something, start with directive phrases, not no.
Because it’s necessary to use “no” or negatives when they need to stop doing something
If we are too caught up with avoiding the “no” word we’ll confuse our kids. Yes, that’s right. We will. If they are doing something they need to stop, it’s more confusing to pontificate than it is to say, “Stop biting.” When your child asks you for a snack 10 minutes before dinner for the 12th time, the most effective answer is “no.”
In real life, people say no. They don’t use 25 words when they can use 5. They don’t try to figure out how to cushion a blow that you deserve to get. Your kids will hear the word “no” or even “stop, don’t, and quit” multiple times in this life so don’t feel guilty saying it when it’s called for.
Because you let your “yes” be “yes” and your “no” be “no”
One of my biggest prayers is that I am a wise mother and raise wise children. Wisdom is not just knowing how to do things, but knowing when and why we do them. Part of this comes from teaching our children the ins and outs. And, by standing by what we say. Consistency is key.
If you are clear and kind in your consequences, boundaries, and family rules, you do not need to feel worried you are being Debbie-like in maintaining them. And, when kids know full well what the expectations are, repeating yourself just becomes a power struggle anyway.
Because you are positive and calm, even when things are tense
Saying “no” doesn’t make you a mean mom. Being a mean mom makes you a mean mom. If you are a calm mom who doesn’t Flip Her Lid at the drop of a hat, your kids will not think that you are oppressing them. Kids, believe it or not, don’t know what’s good for them. And… the kicker is… they know this!
It’s why they look to you when they want to do something.
It’s why they search your eyes out in the room.
It’s why they will raise their eyebrows and wait for you to tell them…
“Go ahead,” or “No, don’t do that.”
Because you’re a mom… not a meanie.
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