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Just say no.

In 1982, Nancy Reagan used the phrase, “Just say no,” for the first time. This phrase became the de facto slogan for the war on drugs, both politically and in the homes of virtually every American. Sadly, statistics have proven that the catchy slogan did not make much of a dent in the war on drugs. But before you throw out the whole concept, I think there might still be hope for this slogan. One of the greatest outages in parenting today is our discomfort with the word, “no,” when it comes to our kids. I feel it and I’m sure you do too. 
 
Saying “no” and sticking with our “no” can feel impossible at times. However, we must understand that good parenting means doing what is best for our children, not what makes us feel the best. We all want our kids to be happy, but if I’m honest, my unwillingness to "just say no,” stems more from my own happiness than my than the good of my child. 
 
Three “Just Say No” excuses...
 
1) I don’t want to be mean.
I've heard this response from tons of parents. They perceive giving a firm “no" to a child as being mean and too parochial. In reality, limits and boundaries are actually healthy for kids. Without hearing the clear nos of life, our kids operate in a cloud of confusion causing their development to suffer. Firm boundaries for a child serve much like the banks of a river, forcing the current forward. The child actually develops a vision and internal drive toward maturity when you tell them “no." It would actually be mean not to tell them no.
 
2) I just want the whining to stop.
We can all relate to this, right? Sometimes we just feel beaten down by all the whining and complaining. The easiest path is to give in to little Sam or Sally’s demands. I’d be lying if I said I don’t fall into this temptation from time to time. But I also know this truth...it doesn’t work! Giving in to the whining, fussing and crying only encourages them to repeat the negative behavior more. You have proven their hypothesis, “If I just cry loud enough, Mom or Dad will give in.” The fastest way to stop whining is to stop negotiating with your child and say “no" when it’s needed.
 
3) They need to understand.
Most parents, myself included, have the hardest time letting no be no. We feel this compulsion to explain every no to our kids. The truth is, there are many times when our children simply cannot understand the real reason behind the no we give them. Beyond this, children under the age of 12 typically do not have the ability to think conceptually. Little children are concrete thinkers. When you take the time to explain the no you give your child, you are playing into their manipulation and end up rewarding their negative behavior with attention. Even with teenage children, we must remember that even if they can understand our reasons, there is great value in expecting your child to respond to your direction without explanation as an act of trust and respect.
 
My advice, just say no. Nothing more, nothing less.
Posted by Andy Savage at 6:00 AM
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