She’s back! The marvelous, wonderful (and should I say forgiving, since I was supposed to post this on Monday?) Deborah Gilboa of Ask Doctor G is back with more advice for the weary parents.
Sometimes I feel like I’m not built with parenting instincts, but other times I feel like I’m just falling into this deep pit of negativity and bad attitudes and need a little refresher to help me get my parenting game face on. That’s why I love Dr. G.
Today’s question (yes, another one of my own):
How to move away from saying no without giving in: I’ve read articles about how to stop saying no all the time, but sometimes I just don’t see how that works. I have days when that’s all I feel like I am saying — “No, don’t do that, don’t do this, don’t hit, don’t throw……” The list is endless, and those are the days when I feel like a terrible mom.
There are nights I have laid in bed and be sure I had said “No!” more often than every other word I uttered that day all added up. It can be so disheartening!
So what’s the problem? Well, Leigh Ann, you know as well as I do what the problem is. It’s that saying yes to preschoolers all day is dangerous! Your question is a great one. I have a few suggestions.
1. You can be silly. “Mommy can I have pudding for breakfast?” “On the moon you can! At our house though it’s cereal.” As long as you can put up with 15 minutes of “We live on the moon Mommy! Look at me I’m the girl in the moon!” this can be a fun way to avoid a “No.”
2. You can keep an “I wish” list in the kitchen. “I’m coloring on the floor Mommy?” Try “Oh! That goes on the ‘I wish I could’ list! Now go get some paper please.”
3. You can make a “Oooh I don’t think so” face. This can be cartoony and hilarious as long as the kids get it.
4. You can poll your other children, like this. “Mommy, can I play in the snow in just my beautiful tutu?” “Hey, you guys, what do you think I’m going to answer sister?” Don’t ask your other children their opinion or you’ll be explaining to the ER doctor how your daughter got frostbite within sight of your home.
5. You can use my husband’s favorite. “Yes, but not until you…” …take a bath, finish dinner, turn 18 and get a job.
But the best way to avoid saying no all the time is what you’re probably already doing. Look ahead for the trouble spots – those points of conflict that come up most days – and offer choices within limits. Does your precious daughter throw huge wardrobe fits when it is time to get dressed? Then lay out the outfit the night before – she has to choose from the two or three you offer before she gets a bedtime story.
You know how to do this.
But remember! Good parents say no a fair amount. Which is good, because the world says no a fair amount, and kids have to be able to cope when that happens. Otherwise, classroom rules and traffic laws and job contracts would all be shocking to our little boundary-pushers!
So what do you guys think? Do you sometimes find yourself swirling in a downward spiral of “No no no?” I can say from experience that giving choices is a HUGE help in avoiding a lot of battles. Especially because it’s so cute to watch Zoe put a thoughtful finger to her lips, examine each choice carefully, and say, “Ummmm…..ummmmmm….”
Thanks so much for stopping by again, Dr. G. Sometimes it just takes a third party to help us take a step back and see better ways to handle situations.
Have a great weekend, everyone!