Saying NO seems to be consuming most of our times as moms. Climbing a stool, fiddling with switches, pulling, pushing, coloring the walls- all deserve a NO. And for valid reason.
Should I tell you a little secret though? I hardly ever say NO to my daughter. I never have. And I don’t think I will. Since I hardly ever deny her anything, she knows now that if mom says NO she means it. She stops right in her steps.
Am I spoiling her? Many have told me I am. Personally I feel I am not. The result will have to wait a few years. And if I am still writing this blog, I shall surely get back on this. However I feel that she is not a spoilt child- as of now atleast.
Put yourself in that situation now. Imagine hearing “NO” to most of your attempts. You are learning a new skill, say knitting. And imagine your mom saying, “No. don’t hold the needles that way. You will hurt yourself!” “No don’t pull that thread so much. You will spoil it!” “No don’t make such a mess. Who is gonna clean up after you??”
Would you want to learn knitting anymore?
I am assuming not.
To understand why your child exhibits behaviours that make you say NO, lets learn a few things about how your child’s mind works.
- Children are inquisitive: The reason why children have an exponential learning curve is because they allow their inquisitiveness to drive them. If they wish to know where the noise is coming from a toy, they will dismantle it to identify the source of the sound. As adults, though we are inquisitive we are socially conditioned to not let that get the better of us mostly. Though many of us might not really know how and where the sound is relayed from our TV, we don’t usually dismantle our flatscreens to find out the how it works. Though its great that we are not dismantling our TVs on a daily basis, it is somewhat sad. We let major questions just live in our heads. We don’t want to find out. Probably that’s why we stop learning too!
- Children world-view is way different from ours: The way kids view the world is vastly different from our conditioned minds. They see mystery and magic in everything. They find effervescence in the most simple of things. They can watch bubbles in a soda bottle travel from the bottom to the top all day. They are creative and imaginative. Again a sad contrast to the adult world where we have to do certain things and go to certain places to derive entertainment. Our tiny world tends to get boring too often.
- They are learning life skills: Children spend atleast the first five years of their lives learning important life skills like walking, talking, hand and mouth co-ordination. Hence their brains are wired to focus only and only on learning. Now they cant shut off their brains when doing other things can they? If they find a can of flour they will open it. But they wont stop there. They will take out the flour. See how it feels on their fingers. Play with it. Smear it on the floor. Smear it on their face. Throw it in the air to see how it travels like dust. All this is part of their training. They cant stop learning and exploring and experimenting ever. Coz that’s how their brains are wired.
- They have a one-point agenda: A child’s brain has just one and one point agenda- LEARN. They learn through conscious and sub-conscious clues. They learn from observation. They learn from experience. They learn from achievements. They learn from failure. But they continue learning.
Now imagine if this greatly activated brain hears NO all the time. Its just going to get frustrated. And the result would be an angry child, a super reactive child or a child who doesn’t care anymore about the word NO.
I am sure you don’t want to be at receiving end of any of the scenarios.
Now lets analyze a little bit of us. Time for some introspection.
Why do we say NO to our kids?
- They are in harm of physical danger: If my kid is climbing up the railing of my balcony I am bound to prevent that. If my kid is reaching out for a knife, I am bound to stop him.
- They are physically endangering others: If my kids is thrashing another kid, I shall intervene.
- They are creating a scene: If my kid is throwing a tantrum at a mall or a restaurant that is harming the peace of others there, I will stop him.
- They are increasing my workload: Coloring on walls will have me scrubbing all day. So let me just say NO to that idea of hers.
- They are driving me crazy: After the toys, coloring and jumping now my kid has decided to SCREAM. That just blows my lid off. I will shout a strong NO at her.
- They are being cranky: Many a times kids just get stuck at some ridiculous need. To prevent stretching the matter, I just say NO to her.
- My husband/partner has said NO: My husband has already denied my baby of something she had asked him for. To corroborate the decision meted out by my husband, I also say NO to that wish when the kid comes running to me.
Of all the reasons above, there are only and only TWO things that really require for you to stop your kid.
- Physical endangerment.
- Corroborating your partner.
If there is a REAL physical threat to your kid, you should ensure his safety.
If your partner has said NO to something, you should too (even if you don’t agree) to prevent your child from using either of you as a bait to get his way in the future! (Believe me a 3 year old is capable enough to figure out whom to ask what. He knows who will fulfill his demands!). This one golden sutra will go a long way in disciplining your kid. Dad says no, so go running to mom or vice versa is not healthy at all.
Also, notice I said REAL physical threat. If your 4 year old is climbing on a stool about a feet high. Let him. He wont break anything if he falls too. Be there next to him. Catch him if he trips at all. But there is no need to prevent him from climbing that tiny stool. So distinguish “potential risk” to “real risk” and let him carry on with something that doesn’t pose a “real” risk. In your presence of course!!
There is a whole list of tips I have about alternates to NO. how you can train your kid without having to say NO. Tips that have the same effect as NO. To keep the sanity of the post’s length, I shall spell out these alternative strategies in my next post.
As of now, the take-home from this post is:
“Use your NO cautiously. Sparingly. From Day 1 of your kid’s life.”
Then your kid will know that if mom is saying NO to something, she really means it! Your kid will take your seriously!
Imagine a kid who doesn’t do something you have denied him of!! NIRVANA….absolute nirvana!