It IS possible to say “No” in a way that honors your own truth, while still staying in positive contact with your child. It IS possible to honor both your needs and your child’s age-appropriate need to assert himself. The secret?
1. Stop seeing your child’s NO as something you need to overcome.
Instead, see it as a YES offering in a duet dance of negotiation. Every dance is a chance to partner with your child, and that foundation of partnership will create more joy — not to mention better behavior — in the years ahead.
2. Don’t take it personally.
Your child is allowed to have a different view than yours. Her willingness to be different is a strength you want to nurture.
3. Listen to your child’s “No”.
“You’re saying NO. No bath! I hear you!”
Sometimes being heard is all our child needs. And the more your child feels seen, heard and acknowledged, the less he’ll need to get your attention by being contrary.
4. Listen to the “YES” behind the “NO”.
“You love playing with the toy horse; you don’t want to stop for a bath, right? That’s OK, you can keep right on playing with the horses… Let’s gallop them into the bathroom! They’re all dusty from riding all day!”
5. Sidestep the “NO!” by making your request an invitation to play.
The secret to smooth transitions is using yourself as the bridge, and no child can refuse your invitation to play.
“Climb on my back, Cowboy, we’re headed for the bathtub in the hills!”
6. Sidestep the “NO!” by giving your child a choice.
Win-win solutions mean you both get what you need.
“NO bath? Maybe you and the horses need to be hosed down in the kitchen sink?”
Who cares where he gets clean?
7. Sidestep the “NO!” by honoring his autonomy without giving up your request.
“NO bath right now? OK, Sweetie. We’ll wait five minutes. Then you may look at the plastic containers in the kitchen and be in charge of which ones you want to play with in the tub. Which one is best for pouring the water?”
Telling your child he “may” do something is magic. You won’t be able to restrain him from the bath.
8. Join the “No”.
In a joking voice:
“Whatever you do, DON’T get in the bathtub. NO, NO, NO, don’t turn on the water!! NO, NO, NO, don’t take off your clothes!!”
9. Honor the autonomy under the “No”.
“Want to be in charge of turning on the water and deciding what toys go in the bath? Who should take your clothes off?”
10. Teach your child that he doesn’t need to attack you to express his needs — you will hear him and respond.
“You sound worried…Oh, you’re worried about that song about the child who goes down the bathtub drain? Don’t worry, you can be in charge of the plug. We won’t pull it out until you’re out of the tub, and then you can watch the water go down. You’ll see that only water can fit.”
11. Just say “YES!”
Match the exuberance of your “YES!” to your child’s “No”. Trust yourself to find a way to make both you and your child happy by responding to her “No” with all the “Yes” energy you can summon.
“YES, it’s time for your bath, and YES you can bring your horses, and YES you can ride on my back up the stairs on my back up the stairs, and YES I love you so much and YES, LET”S GO!”
Your child will match your generosity of spirit.
12. Honor the disappointment when you can’t agree with the “No”.
When you need to put your foot down, you can say your “No” with empathy and compassion for your child.
“I’m sorry, Sweetie, it’s bath time now. That makes you sad, I see. You wish you could play more. I bet when you grow up you’ll play all night, every night, won’t you?”
(That will get a “YES!”)
These examples are all from the toddler years, but you can of course adapt this for older kids. Keeping a sense of humor, acknowledging the other person’s perspective, and staying warmly connected ALWAYS helps you get past “No” with any human being. And if you start off raising your child this way, you’ll raise a tween and teen who can stand firm in his own integrity while he respects yours.
Remember that you can always find a way to meet both your needs. If you honor both your own “NO” and your child’s, you can always find a way to get past the word “NO” — to the “YES!” energy right behind it.
(Special thanks to Robert Gass, who inspired today’s message.)
Find the original article here.
By Dr. Laura Markham, founder of AhaParenting.com and author of Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids, Peaceful Parent, Happy Siblings and her latest book, the Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids Workbook.