How to Set Boundaries with Your Children
Quote of the Week
“A child seldom needs a good talking to
as a good listening to. ~ Robert Brault
When Is It Okay to Say No
In my research for this post, there are lots of reason I read that it’s okay to say “no” or of the kind. Here are the top reasons it’s 100% okay to say no to your child to help them grow into a well grounded ALIVE adult.
To keep them safe. There should be ZERO ambiguity with this one. If you’re child is doing something dangerous drop that N word… HARD. Holding your hand in the parking lot, climbing furniture that could fall on them, burners. Sure there are other words you could use, like “DANGEROUS or “HOT”. Depending on their age you’re expecting them to remember what these words mean. They know what “no” means no matter their age.
Curb their wants. We don’t necessarily say “no”. We say, we’ll add it to your Christmas list and maybe Santa will bring it. It allows us to really sift through wanting something in a fleeting moment and REALLY wanting something. If they ask for the same thing, multiple times over the course of months and months then we know what to prioritize for their birthdays and Christmas making it really count.
Bullying, undressing in public, on airplanes, in restaurants, or destroying personal property. All good reasons or circumstances to use the “N” word.
Fun Fact, I keep using the “N” word because there’s a great scene in Wokin’ Moms about this during a mom’s group and it’s awesome. If you haven’t binged it, stop reading this right now and go do that.
Why Parents Don’t Like the “N” Word
Generally people don’t like to say “no” to their kids because it can become a bad habit where you’re saying no all the time to everything and your kids start throwing tantrums more, pushing back, and just generally being grouchy. SO grouchy. It creates bedtime battles, meal time battles, getting dressed battles, because you’re alive battles.
Sometimes when we say no, we mean not right now or that’s not something you should have, so hand it to me please and thank you!
Ideally we’d stay one step ahead of them. If we don’t want them to have cookies before dinner we’d make sure the cookies were away and up high. Same with our phones, remotes, etc. It’s the same idea as baby proofing. It’s really “no” proofing.
Why I Love Saying No
My three and half year old daughter was standing in front of me, and she pulled at my shirt first a little then wide to look down my blouse. I calmly took her hand, put it at her side, looked in in the eye, and sternly said, “No, thank you.” Then explained why that is not okay.
“No, thank you.” Has become our boundary phrase. The thing that stops the other from what they’re doing and says very clearly that is not okay and please stop in three words.
They use it with us and our nanny too. If we’re trying to do something funny, like tickles or a new game, if they don’t like it, they sternly say, “No thank you.” and we stop.
It works for twin battles. When one asks the other to politely stop or to give a toy back, or to stop teasing, or to be left alone. They always begin, with “No, thank you.”
When they hear the other say it they know, No means NO. Without yelling or screaming at one another.
It’s become the family’s safe phrase in a sense.
Which, is not only important for the child learning how to say it - calmly and thoughtfully without getting frustrated and losing their temper, but for the other child to really hear it, understand what is being communicated and basically back off.
This keeps arguments to a minimum. Sets clear boundaries by both adults and kids and the kids amongst themselves.
It’s also inadvertently, teaching my son especially, that no means no. < Happy accident.
Find Your Happy Medium
This, “No, thank you.” thing I’ve stumbled upon really works mostly for handling relationships amongst themselves and with us. It’s polite. It’s calm and it sets clear personal boundaries.
However, I do believe in the crystal clear times to say “No.” Which is anytime they’re putting themselves in danger.
I also believe there’s a time to take a step back and rephrase things to say what you mean and mean what you say. I’m not really saying no. I’m really saying not right now. I’m really saying, OPPS!
If you find yourself stuck in a “no” loop and your kids seem to be extra unruly, try taking a step back and ask yourself, “Am I really saying no?”
Also know, a “no” loop usually rears it’s ugly head when we, as parents, are overtired, overstressed, and just over it. So acknowledge that as a different problem, take a step back… way back… into the nail salon, hair salon, or spa and get you some you time.
As always Momma, you do you whether that’s never saying “no”, always saying “no”, or somewhere in between.
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