While at a kid’s birthday party this past weekend, I came across a parent’s worst nightmare, a pair of brothers who seemed to have never heard the word “no.” These boys were taking toys from the other kids, pushing anyone who got in their way, running all over the party, sneaking cookies before dessert was actually served, and shaking all of the birthday girl’s presents. All the while, their mom and dad would occasionally call after them, in an overly calm and friendly voice, “Hey, guys, maybe we shouldn’t do that,” or, “Now, now, play nice.”
It was obvious that the kids were in charge, and the parents were just along for the ride. When did parents make the drastic transition from telling their kids to go pick a switch from the tree to being afraid of telling their kids “no”? While beating your kids with a stick isn’t an acceptable form of discipline, parents must realize that they need to have to power over their kids, and “no” is a useful word.
“NO” is useful in setting rules and boundaries.
It’s obviously best to start setting rules and boundaries when your child is very young, but it is never too late to start. Children need, and actually crave, rules and boundaries. Knowing what to expect, and what is expected of them, helps to give kids a sense of stability and security. You need to set clear and simple rules, and most importantly, stick to them and be consistent.
Is your child demanding a snack? Let him know that you won’t give him one until he asks nicely and says, “Please.” He may throw an even bigger fit at first, but if you stay calm and stick to your guns, eventually he will know that he won’t get what he wants by whining. Is it too close to meal time to have a snack? Simply tell your child, “No.” Again, a fit may be thrown at first, but if you ignore the bad behavior, he will learn that temper tantrums don’t get him what he wants. When kids experience frustration, it helps them to learn how to be patient and to practice self-control.
Consistency in rules and boundaries with added praise is effective!
It is a kid’s job to test boundaries, but as a parent, it is your job to set the boundaries and stick to them! While trying to establish your rules and boundaries, use “no” and mean it, but don’t forget about praising the good behavior as well. Simple phrases such as, “Thank you for listening,” and, “Wow! I like how patient you are being,” can really boost a child’s self-esteem and encourage them to keep pleasing you.
You will find that the combination of clear, consistent rules and praise for good behavior will lead to your needing to say “no” less; but when you do need to say it, you’ll find that it is more effective because your kids will know that you mean it. I’ll leave you with a little reminder I that I found on babycenter.com, “…don’t give into begging and whining unless you want to live with the habits.”