YES opens the heart and adds light and life.
NO closes, separates and hurts.
I follow a rule:
10 YESes for every NO!
It is challenging, but worth it!
The Problems with NO
I think for many parents no becomes a habit.
That’s why I’ve suggested 10 yes for every no.
The idea behind this is to make us think more deeply about when and why we say no.
Saying NO does not encourage independent thinking, does not foster communication and it creates a separation between parent and child. One of the most important aspects of parenting is the relationship we have with our kids. We want them to trust us, to be open to us, to know that we love and accept them as they are.
Every time we say NO we damage this a little bit.
Over time the damage grows, the separation increases, the trust erodes.
This creates a pattern that can last a lifetime.
So give saying YES more often a try.
Say it when it’s hardest, when it’s pushing your buttons and you’re dying to say NO.
Say An Unreasonable Yes
Or perhaps a lot of unreasonable yeses!
The unreasonable YES is a great method for increasing how much our children feel accepted, loved and understood. When we say YES to things that seem totally reasonable to say no to, especially when our children fully expect to hear NO, it alters something in their brains! It changes how they perceive us.
The moment of an unreasonable yes is something they do not forget.
Try and decrease the number of times you say NO throughout the day.
The more a child hears YES the more their general level of positivity will increase.
It is amazing to witness that when kids hear YES a lot,
their need for resistance and defiance decreases and eventually disappears!
An Uncommon View
I know the common view is that if we say YES a lot then our children will take advantage of us.
This is simply not the case.
They are much nobler beings than we often give them credit for.
They will respond to love with love. Just give them time.
How My Responses Evolved
Over the years I’ve changed my responses from
‘YES and…’ is so powerful
1) No you can’t throw food on the floor.
(There are no lessons being taught, no connections being made)
2) No you can’t throw food on the floor because it makes a mess and I have to clean it up. Or it’s bad manners, or that’s not what food is for, or we don’t waste food, or any number of reasons
(They may hear YOUR reasons for the correction, but they don’t have the opportunity to develop their own understanding of it)
3) Yes! Throwing food on the floor is fun and I like to do it too. Let’s do it together. AND another part of throwing food is cleaning it up. Let’s do that together too.
YES! I love to throw things too. Let’s go over here where it’s a better place to throw stuff and play together. Then we can come back and eat after.
In this example we connect with our kids, we let them know we value and honour their desires and impulses, AND we guide them towards a deeper understanding of their actions.
These three approaches have markedly different effects and I have seen how powerful using the 3rd is and I have done my best to use it more often than the other 2.
What are the Lessons We Want to Teach
The key is to decide what values, attitudes, skills and knowledge we want to impart to our young ones. Then to make sure the “Yes And” actually achieves that goal.
Example, in the first “Yes And” example the focus was on teaching being responsible for the effects of our choices. They can make the choice to throw food on the floor and then we add the idea of dealing with the after effects by cleaning up together.
In the other “Yes” example we are teaching an understanding of appropriate places in the house to do certain things as well as being a responsible part of the home community.
In both cases the impulse to throw food was respected and a lesson was imparted. As I said before, There are many ways to express “yes and”, the idea is to honour the impulse and feelings while adding guidance.
Parenting Requires Much Deep Thinking
One of the most difficult parts of conscious parenting is
to think very deeply about WHAT we want to impart
and then to think very deeply about HOW.
I try and evaluate every decision and see if it’s actually achieving the goals I have in mind.
This requires looking deeper than the surface of what’s going on.
I have found that when I think about what will actually create the outcomes I have in mind, rather than simply creating short term compliance (which is the goal of most traditional parenting styles) it becomes clear very quickly that YES is far more effective than NO.
Say YES to YES!