How to say ‘NO’ and mean it!
How, as a parent do you say “no” to your child when other parents allow their kids to do ‘it’? This is a question most parents are confronted with at some point, and certainly an argument your child will argue when they want something. “Everyone else is doing it – why can’t I?”
If you aren’t firm in your decision, or the co-parent doesn’t agree with you, it can be very difficult to stand your ground. Children learn how to confront you on your weakest points, at the most vulnerable moments. They also know how to be persistent, especially when they really want something. Children learn very quickly which buttons to press.
The more wish washy you are the quicker your child learns that if they push hard enough, long enough they will get their way. So, how do you say no and follow through? This is something I think every parent needs to consider before questions arise. There won’t be a cookie cutter format for every situation that arises, but if you’re prepared and your child knows the process they’ll be less likely to persist (unless they know you’ll cave in). As a single parent it’s important to be firm, fair and focused.
Here are some suggestions to consider:
- Establish specific time every day when you know you have the opportunity to discuss requests. It’s important to set aside time and routinely set intentions for success. Often situation arise on the spur of the moment but if your child knows they can’t interrupt your work day to discuss and decide on something, they’ll learn to wait. When they learn the outcome is more positive when there’s time to discuss everything they’ll appreciate the opportunity to argue their point of view. Teaching your child to be part of the decision process with pro’s & con’s, consequences, etc. is a wonderful learning tool. Allow 10 minutes at the start of the day to talk about daily intentions, and remember to ask for feedback at the end of the day with those intentions. Have at least 1/2 in the evening for questions and open discussion. This teaches your child to plan ahead and appreciate being organized.
- Determine ground rules based on decisions made together and consequences decided ahead of time, and be sure to stand firm with the final decision. The less you waver the more you set the scene for less controversy in the future.
- Have open communication with other parents and let your child know that before a decision is made you will be contacting those parents for confirmation (if this is a group participation event & they’re claiming the other parents agree to it). This teaches your child to think ahead and be honest.
- Don’t allow the non-custodial parent to sway the decision once it’s been made. Follow your gut feeling, intuition and go with what you resonate with. Display confidence in your decision making. Even if there are arguments against your decision if you feel you’ve made the right choice stand by it. Discuss why you made your decision. Also remember to express your appreciation for how responsible your child is to respect your decisions. Teach them that following the crowd isn’t always the best choice and once the situation has happened discuss how it went. Often your child has forgotten all about it, or the situation you weren’t feeling good about ended up badly and you can reinforce why your decision was a good one.
- YOU are the parent and the choices you make should align with your values. Teach your children to respect those values and they will respect you for it. Kids who don’t have rules & consequences want parents to make decisions for them.
- Stay focused on exactly what it is you desire. Anything worth wanting requires sacrificing other things we may want in the short term. As a parent your desire is to provide the very best for your child and it may not always be easy. When you achieve your desire by staying focused, persistent and consistent you will appreciate those sacrifices you made. Be the example for your child while allowing them to align with their goals.
When you follow these guidelines you establish ground rules, confidence, trust and respect. There will always be momentary decisions required in certain circumstances, but when you have a process in place you’ll be less likely to feel overwhelmed when the split-decision moments arise.