A few months ago, Anna started getting upset when her older siblings pulled out their DIY doll houses to play with. Anna had her own set of peg dolls, and the kids were happy to share their houses with her, but she did not like that idea much! We were able to find the same type of birdhouse in our California JoAnn’s store, and for a while she happily used her un-decorated house alongside the kids’ painted houses. I wasn’t too sure when she asked to paint her house, but she has done a beautiful job of decorating it (I did give her washable paint, instead of the paint the other kids used), and she is enjoying using her now-decorated house. Five-year-old Lily has updated the décor of her house as she has gotten older, and I could definitely see Anna doing the same over time.
This entire experience got me thinking about how we as parents relate to toddlers. Toddlers say the word “no” a lot, but they also hear it a lot. No running in the street. Don’t eat that. Don’t hit your sister. My first reaction when Anna wanted to paint her house was to say “no”, but I thought about it and realized that I didn’t have a good reason to do that. Setting up the paints takes a little bit of time, and there is always the potential of mess, but Anna has proven herself in the past to be a very neat painter, and as you can tell she did a beautiful job with this project.
Have you told your toddler yes today? How about older kids?
I try to think before I automatically tell my kids “no”. Why am I saying no? Is there a good reason to say “yes” instead?
I am also teaching my kids to learn how to start a discussion when I do say “no” if it is an activity that is really important to them. If they can give me a convincing reason to change my mind, I will. My kids are learning that one really good way to get me to say yes is for them to offer to do something in exchange. They are learning to think for themselves, work hard, and advocate for things that they care about. So much better than crying and whining!
Have you told your kids yes lately?