How many times do you think you say NO to your kids every day?
Five times? Twenty times? A hundred times?
I bet if I kept track, it would be in the triple digits. Easily.
Sometimes I say no to them before they can even finish a complete sentence.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot.
Because Number 6 is giving me a serious run for my money lately.
He’s super defiant, and I find myself embroiled in power struggles with him way more often than I’d like to be.
I’ve been trying to pinpoint the source of the issues I’ve been having with him. I believe there are a few main reasons he’s such a challenge right now.
And one of them isn’t that he’s being a tool.
It’s the way I’m talking to him.
I tried to be very conscious of this yesterday. I paid attention to our interactions.
Mommy, can I ride in the car without a booster seat?
Mommy, can I have some orange juice?
Mommy, can I have two granola bars?
Mommy, can I play on the iPad?
Mommy, can I stay home instead of going to the Y?
Mommy, can I have one of those juice boxes?
Mommy, can I –
These are just a few of the times I said no to Number 6 yesterday.
Forget about all the rest of my kids.
Between all of them, I very, very easily say no hundreds of times a day.
So when I ask my kids to do something, or, more accurately, when I tell them to do something and they automatically say no, why am I surprised?
I mean, it only takes one time for you to let a shit! or a fuck! slip out for your kids to memorize that word and use it at every embarrassing and inopportune time possible.
So what are we to expect when they hear us saying no hundreds of times a day?
I have become what Positive Discipline would refer to as a no monster.
I am no-ing my kids to death.
And that immediately builds the foundation for a power struggle. And power struggles are exhausting and infuriating.
Obviously we can’t say yes to every single question our kids ask. We need to set limits and boundaries.
But how can that be done without saying no?
Well, I am going to focus on the following three things:
First, I’m going to do my best to stop with the demands.
I’m getting better at this.
What do you need to do to be ready to get on the bus? has been MUCH more effective for me than progressing from:
Go get your shoes.
I said go get your shoes!
Didn’t I just ask you to get your shoes?
Why are your shoes still not on?
HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO ASK YOU TO GET YOUR SHOES???
Next, I’m going to try really, REALLY hard to ask questions that can’t be answered with yes or no. Those just invite the power struggles.
Instead of Can you help me bring something in from the car?
I’m going to try something more along the lines of What do you want to carry inside? Your swim bag or a bag of groceries?
That gives Number 6 a choice so he has some control and it also gives hime an opportunity to make decisions.
Finally, I’m giving myself this challenge. I’m going to try not to say no for a whole day.
Yep. For a whole day.
I will find a way to either give him choices, or to say yes.
Before you lose your shit about the saying yes thing, hold on.
First, as far as the choices go, instead of saying “Get ready to go to practice” I’m going to try:
“It’s time to get ready to leave. What do you want to do first? Pack your swim bag or eat your snack?”
When it’s time to get out of the car, (one of the things that drives me f&%$ing insane because he takes like five million years to get out) rather than barking, “Hurry up and get out of the car!!!!”
I’m going to try, “How many seconds do you think it’s going to take you to get from the car to the front door?”
We’ll see if we can make it fun instead of turning it into a battle.
Now back to that saying yes thing. I don’t mean I’m just going to give up and let the kids do whatever the hell they want.
When I tell Number 6 it’s time to get ready for bed and he says, “NO! I DON’T WANT TO GO TO BED!”
I’m going to try “Yes, I can understand you want to stay up, but it’s time for bed! Now what do you want to do first? Brush your teeth or put your pajamas on?”
That’s a whole lot different than saying, “GO UPSTAIRS AND GO TO BED.”
If your kids are giving you a hard time in the defiance department, take a look at how you are talking to them.
How many times do you say no to them every day? It might be more than you think! You might be unknowingly inviting the responses and behavior.
If you find you are in the same boat as me, maybe you can take the just say no to saying no challenge with me.
Think you can make it through a whole day without saying no?
I don’t know if I can, but for my sake and Number 6’s sake, I’m sure gonna try.