Saw a story on Good Morning America this morning about “Desperate Housewives” actress Marla Sokoloff, who is doing her best to stop saying “No” to her 15-month old daughter. I was like WTF! (Watermelon, Tomato, Fruit Fly!) Stop being a wuss and deal with the smelly side of being a parent! When it comes to raising kids saying “NO!” is just a real live part of the job!
Sure, The Hubby and I only have one kid. But to our credit The Boy has made it to the age of 17 and thus far is a pretty good citizen of the world. He did and still does get all of the love, kisses and hugs a kid can stand. Growing up we read him stories every night, made sure he said his prayers and so on and so forth. Heck, up until the age of five he never heard a foul word leave my mouth and I made sure others kept it clean in his presence as well. But when he hit six years old, or maybe five and half, all bets were off and a few choice words (okay perhaps more than a few) fell from my lips from time to time when it came to correcting his behavior.
My point is simple. We didn’t have any problem telling him, “No,” “Not now,” “Not today,” “Not ever,” Don’t do that,” and still ask on numerous occasions “Have you lost your mind?” As a kid The Boy’s discipline ranged from “the Look,” to “Time out,” to being “Talked to,” to being “Pinched” to being “Spanked,” yes, I said it “Spanked!” Don’t go calling Child Services, he’s fine! It was all in the name of love, teaching boundaries and self-discipline. I’ll also admit that our goal was to instill a healthy amount of fear in him. It’s a beautiful thing when your child fears you enough that they will at least give a second thought to acting like a fool because they don’t want to incur your wrath. As The Hubby often said, “No” might just save his life one day! And it probably has.
On more than a few occasions I’ve observed and encountered way too many parents who bribe, plead and/or negotiate with their kids on the basics. “Do you want to go to bed now?” “Do you want to eat now?” “Do you want to take a bath now?” “Do you want to take a nap now?” Seriously? Nine times out of ten the kid says, “No” and the parents are left feeling frustrated and exhausted.
Sure depending on the situation there’s always room for compromise but some things have to be non-negotiable. Spending hours trying to persuade your kid to go to bed gets a big Boooo! Kids actually want rules and when we parents are consistent they usually respond. Oh yes, the tone of your voice also matters. If you’re asking/telling your kid to do something in a pleading and whiny voice they sense your lack of backbone. So we have to “parent-up” and put some base in our voice and tell them in no uncertain terms what we want. I’ve even managed to do it with a smile and The Boy tended to get the point.
The Hubby and I weren’t so much concerned about whether The Boy liked us or not (we figured that would come in time) Instead we needed him to learn that none of us always get what we want. And while that may be frustrating we have to suck it up and be civilized. All of our kids will eventually venture out into the real world where, “NO” is a harsh reality and Mommy and Daddy won’t always be there to make it better. So when they’re young we can’t wuss out on the hard stuff like saying “No.” What’s your take on saying “No” to your kids?