Zach, come here.
Zach you want nuggets?
My not-yet-two year old has a way of saying it in the cutest possible way.
When my 9 year old says it with absolute defiance, it’s not as cute.
“No, I won’t write any more.”
“NO, I won’t eat this.”
But I can still take it.
But as a 36 year old adult when I am told that I cannot choose to take decisions for myself, God, it gets to me.
This morning in another city, in a hotel room, I invited my male colleague to my room to freshen up before our meeting.
But I was told I could not.
No Madam. This is not possible. Guests cannot access the room.
I realised I was being morally policed and asked them ‘would it be okay if I waited in the lounge while he freshened up.’
Yes yes madam. That is alright!
Which got me thinking, reminded about how much I hate being told I could not do something. Being disallowed on a trip by mom or the time our teacher would not let us sit with our friends in class. In college when there could be ‘No’ sleeveless or in hostel when my best friend and I were asked to shift rooms because the nun was afraid we were too close to be ‘friends’.
If I hated to hear it so much, why do I put my kids through the same all the time?
If it riles me up, am I surprised at them getting so mad when I throw a ‘NO’ at them?
But would that mean I allow them everything they ask for?
How would that be parenting?
Which brings me to the crux:
How can I treat my child in a manner that I would like to be treated?
How could I make them feel a part of the decision-making process rather than for or against them?
How could I parent without making them feel helpless and mad?
1. Reason with them: This doesn’t work because…Explain why what they want may not be feasible, practical or wise.
2. Ask them for options: This is the problem I see with the situation. Do you think we could do it some other way?
3. Play with your vocabulary: Find creative ways to use synonyms that mean no. May not always work, but you still may have a less defensive person to deal with.
4. Provide them Alternatives: How about we do this instead? Maybe you could…? Shall we ask…?
5. Provide them choices: You could do this or this. Which would you like better? I guess the ownership of the decision will help them feel better.
6. Show them how to instead of asking them not to. Especially when they are banging away and creating a frenzy of a situation just for fun, try showing them a whisper game that’s as much fun.
We have tried this before too but honestly, these need patience and work. NO comes easily and who doesn’t like to play boss. So here’s to passing the ownership back to the child and helping them and you feel a little less anguish!