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The power of no

in Life Lessons, Parenting

kid cry

Photo by mrgoose on

One of the first words kids learn is “no” because they hear it all the time.

  • No… Don’t touch the hot stove.
  • No… Don’t lick the toilet.
  • No… Don’t each that much candy.
  • No… Don’t scream inside the house.
  • No… Don’t slide down the carpeted stairs naked on your stomach while carrying  a pair of scissors and scream “Cowabunga!”

But whether it is from frustration, a desire to be their hero, exhaustion, or sheer laziness… our no can lose its power.

Mine has.

My youngest chooses a time when I am incredibly busy doing homework, cooking, or paying bills and then he’ll ask me over and over, “Can I have _________? Please? Why not? How about now? Now? Now? How about now? But why? Can I now? How about now? Plllllllllleeeeaaaassseeee?” with the hope that eventually I’ll give in to make him be quiet.

The reason “No” is so strong with babies is because there was an immediate consequence if they choose to ignore it.

  • If he touched the hot stove… he got burned.
  • If she licked the toilet… it tasted awful.
  • If he ate too much candy… he got a tummy ache.
  • If he slid down the carpeted stairs naked on his stomach while carrying  a pair of scissors and screaming “Cowabunga!”… he had a nasty carpet burn where the sun don’t shine and quite possible a new accessory in his eye socket.

But when “no” loses the consequences, it loses its power.

It goes beyond kids too. In the real world, people will take advantage of others that don’t know how to say (or stick with) no. When you say you don’t have time to volunteer for something, you don’t have the money to give to a cause, or you don’t want to settle for being used by the same person (again), let your no mean no. It’s not easy, but as the saying goes, we treat people how to treat us. If you are the type of person that is asked repeatedly for the same thing that you’ve already said no to 1,000 times before, more than likely you’ve given that person a reason to believe they can pester you into saying yes.

For me, the power of my no is solid in the adult world, but it has drained when it comes to my 5-year-old because I get so frustrated that I give in. I know it, he knows it, and it often affects the stress level of my family. Giving in makes life momentarily more peaceful, but I’m not doing any of us any longterm favors. I have to not worry so much about my older two having to deal with the crying when the youngest doesn’t get his way. I have to give myself permission be okay with him going to bed angry at me. I have to remind myself that I am strong enough for this. And then I have to do it.

What about you? How much power does your “no” carry? Do you have a weak area when it comes to staying and meaning no?

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