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Say Yes! A Parenting Approach The Experts Forgot to Mention

Say Yes

Shifting to "Yes"

It's amazing how often we say the word "no." Our kids probably hear it more often than most. They are frequently doing something out of line. In intimate relationships, for every negative or corrective statement, the ideal is to give 5 positive ones. It's hard… I've tried!

A few years ago I made a commitment to my kids. Whenever reasonable I would agree to their requests – I would say, "yes." This doesn't mean I never say "no," but it does mean that my first thought is, “How can I make this a yes?” It also means that if I do say no, that I provide them with a reason, even if that reason is "I'm sorry, but I'm too tired and tonight isn't a convenient night for me."

Sometimes this makes things harder because I have to look like the bad guy:

Kid: “Mom, can I have a sleepover tonight?”

Me:  “Honey, I'd like to say yes, but I'm just too tired to deal with having an extra person in the house tonight.”

Mostly, it forces me to really look at why I'm saying no, and make sure it's for a good reason:

Kid:  “Mom, can I clean up my bedroom after I watch my show?”

Me:  (after I think about it) “As long as it's done by 1pm, when we need to leave for our appointment, I don't really care. What is your plan for getting it done by then?”

While the goal in saying "yes" more often is to be a more positive and supportive parent, it comes with a few added bonuses.

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First, your kids will likely trust you more. They know that you are on their side, and when you do have to turn down a request, they may be more willing to trust that your reasons are justified and you're not just pulling rank on them as a parent.

Second, saying positive things supports not only your kid, but you. It feels good to say yes; to give positive feedback. So don't feel like you have to get out a counter and keep track of the 5-to-1 ratio, but accept my challenge to you this week and say “yes” more often. Even out the balance – just a little bit.

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