Posts Tagged ‘yes parenting’

Can’t Say No to Your Kids? Here’s Help

Saturday, March 8th, 2008

In response to my Feb. 27 post, "Are You Crazy Busy?" Susan Newman, Ph.D., a social psychologist and author of 13 parenting and relationship books, including The Book of NO: 250 Ways to Say It — and Mean It — and Stop People-Pleasing Forever got in touch and offered to share these tips, from her wonderful book, with the rest of us:

When something needs to be done, you’re the one to do it. It often feels as if you’re the only reliable person you know. The trouble is: Everyone else thinks that way, too. Especially your children.

Children have no trouble saying no. But it’s a word you avoid because it sets your guilt meter running, particularly where your children are concerned. You don’t want to disappoint them or make them unhappy. When you say yes to your children’s every want and whim, you wind up saying no to yourself, being overwhelmed and exhausted. You can’t be a happy, effective parent if you always function on overload.


At times, it seems a child’s needs involve you in different and demanding ways every waking minute. You have every right to say no to a child who asks to stay up later or eat more candy than you think is healthy, just as you do to an adult child who seeks dollars to start a seemingly risky venture.

NO Teaches Life Lessons

In some situations, no is the obvious answer, but what happens when your child asks to add another extracurricular activity to her already-full schedule? You’re proud of her initiative and want her to excel, but at the same time, your brain calculates the extra costs, both monetary and physical, that will result if you give permission.

When faced with the decision to add another activity to your child’s crowded schedule, grant a privilege or buy the latest electronic gizmo, listen to your gut feeling and ask yourself these questions: Can you afford to invest the time or money? What will it take away from other children in your family? From your job? How much stress or pressure will it add to your life?

By calling up a no when you need it, you gain a bit of deserved time for yourself, and equally important, no prepares your child for the “real” world. Parental no’s teach children how to cope with disappointment, how to argue, how to strike a balance between work and play, time management and task prioritization — essential experiences that aren’t always taught in school. When children grow up learning these concepts, they are more likely to be successful in their academics, relationships and, later on, in their careers.

10 Tips for Saying NO

In The Book of NO I point out that you have certain rights.
Among them: Using no to get your life in control and to be in control
of it; requesting details before committing; refusing anyone, including
your children, who insists on an immediate answer. Exercising your “no”
rights will change how you think when your children’s requests seem
excessive, unnecessary or impossible to meet given your other
commitments.

In our culture of “yes parenting,” here are suggestions and reminders to make saying no to your children easier:

•    Don’t get in the habit of putting your children’s wants and wishes before yours.
•    Forget about keeping up with the Joneses (one of the reasons many parents say yes).
•    Think about what’s really involved (in terms of time, money, health, pressure — yours and theirs).
•    Children get over disappointment far better and faster than parents do.
•    Don’t say yes to avoid confrontation.
•    Appropriate use of NO teaches important life lessons.
•    Saying NO helps instill your beliefs and values.
•    Remember, it is your parental right to say NO.
•    Park your guilt. As adults, your children will find something other than your refusals to fault you for.
•    Your children may even thank you for teaching them how to say no.

Thanks, Dr. Newman! For more on how to say NO to your children, friends, family and at work, visit www.thebookofno.com.