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  • Writer's pictureIlaria Galliano

Tell me yes.. but also no

Teaching your children is not an easy task. 

We find ourselves in front of the person we love the most in the world, and we want nothing but her happiness and satisfaction.

Facing appropriate "no's" at different stages is crucial and even receiving appropriate feedback at various stages of growth is essential to understanding and meeting different needs and requirements.

During early childhood, saying "No" to a child helps them understand how to navigate their surroundings and interact with others, by preventing them from engaging in potentially dangerous actions.

As the child grows older, saying "No" helps guide their behavior and attitudes, as well as helps them understand their limits and possibilities.

How crucial is it to strike a balance between saying "Yes" and "No"?

Both positive and negative reinforcement are crucial in the development of children.

The presence of rules and boundaries is vital in helping children understand what is acceptable behavior in various contexts and relationships with others.

Although a parent's desire is to keep their child happy, sometimes it can lead to avoiding conflict, which is not always the best approach.

Sometimes, we find ourselves in situations where we agree to child's request, even though deep down we know we should refuse.

This can result in a conflict between meeting the other child's expectations and do what we need to do and choise.

While it can be difficult to say "No", we must do so when necessary, and we should explain our decision to our children so they can understand our reasoning.

The children's reactions can range from understanding to anger. In the different emotional responses, we should show, through our attitude and our words, the desire to welcome, understand, and support their state of mind, motivating our choice clearly and confidently.

Over time, by consistently using a few simple rules and supporting children in dealing with a possible "No", they will learn to understand what is and isn't acceptable, learn limits, and respect boundaries.

It can be hard to manage the feelings of guilt that arise when saying "no" to your children, especially when it leads to sadness, anger, or frustration. However, it is important to remember that your love for your children should be expressed not just through saying "yes", but also through setting boundaries and avoiding situations that could be dangerous, inappropriate for their age, or simply not possible at the time.

Rules… yes or no?

Proposing clear and coherent rules can help us avoid constantly having to say "No".

It is important to explain to children why rules must be respected and how they can benefit from following them.

We can motivate our decision to set limits by highlighting the potential negative consequences of breaking rules and by emphasizing the importance of certain rules in certain situations.

Repeating the same rules consistently can help children understand that their actions have consequences and encourage them to regulate their behavior accordingly.

However, this process requires a reference model and a lot of patience.

The 'No's are growth, activation of resources, and management emotions. This means that being told "no" can lead to personal growth, the discovery of unused talents or skills, and the ability to manage emotions in response to disappointment. When a child is taught that they cannot always get what they want, and that sometimes they must wait, they develop emotional awareness and independence.

Say “No” without saying “No”.

It is not always necessary to say "No" to our children, we can use other strategies to guide them to make the right choice or change their behavior. We could offer them an alternative to that action or attitude.

For example, we could say:

  • "let's walk to the bathroom" instead of: "Don't run";

  • "let's put the toys on the ground" instead of: "Don't throw the toys";

  • "let's be careful about drinking water" instead of: "Don't get all wet";

  • "let's be careful not to waste water" instead of: "Don't play with water";

  • "let's speak softly" (mimicking the tone) instead of: "Don't shout".

Children live and experience the environment in which they grow up. They try to overcome their limits and discover the world through their experiences. As adults, our role is fundamental. We must guide them in their discovery and ensure that their personalities stand out while respecting others and what surrounds them.

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