Raising Children: Have you said yes today?

Raising children: have you said yes today?

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?

MaryAnne lives in Silicon Valley with her Stanford professor husband Mike and their four children. She writes about parenting through education, creativity, and play. Mama Smiles - Joyful Parenting is a space to share crafts, hands on learning activities, and family outings that enrich lives and bring families together.

14 thoughts on “Raising Children: Have you said yes today?”

  1. Interestingly, I think about this all the time when I say “yes” to something my daughter expected a “no”. Her face really lights up, and it makes me “the best Mommy in the world”. And I am not talking about buying her toys or giving her candy – just simple things that give her either more competency or more attention from me when she needs it.

  2. So well said, MaryAnne! I haven’t thought about this but you’re right—there’s so much that kids can do that we hold back on because of our preconceived notions. I love the idea of asking if a ‘yes’ would be a better solution. I read somewhere that kids hear ‘no’ a ridiculous amount of time than we realize.

  3. I think about this all the time! Oh the nos at our house, there’re baskets full. Especially with more than one of them, I have to think about when to say yes because they’re going to both have to have/do the same thing. It’s often a huge pain, but sometimes it turns out to be totally worthwhile!

  4. It can be a challenge at times to say “yes,” to things. Recently the kids have been so over-stimulated with all of the experiences that I’m finding myself having to say no because they’re not coping well with what is going on, and a lot of that is my fault because we’ve gotten out of sync with schedule stuff, and there’s just so much to get back in control. Why can’t life be simple? Why do I have to be a grown up?

  5. Very good point, I feel the same way. I tried to reserve “no” for very important safety rules especially when my kids were very young. I am sure your really made Anna’s day :-)

  6. Elisa | blissfulE

    As I start to feel less overwhelmed, I’m trying to say “yes” to at least one thing per child per day. It is worthwhile. Thanks for the encouragement!

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