Ever think about how many times you say no to your children?
Do you feel guilty for always saying no?
Does it seem to cause the child to misbehave more when you are constantly saying no?
Children from hard places are often in survival mode. They want to control their environment because it gives them a false sense of security. We want children to have a real sense of security. We want them to feel safe, to have a voice.
When our brains hear negative information constantly, it puts us in a downward spiral. Children from hard places are already have displaced wiring. Their neural pathways may always lead to the negative. Life experience has taught them that life is not good.
We want to change those pathways. We want our kids to enjoy life and feel positive. Can you imagine never feeling as if life is good. NEVER. Sad, huh? I understand this perspective, because I was a child from a hard place and I often had an overwhelming negative feeling, all the time. Not a great place for a kid to live.
Even neurotypical children need to hear the word yes! Saying yes is nurturing. For every one time your child hears the word no, he should hear the word yes seven times! I know, you’re thinking, how in the world do I do that? You can’t say yes to your child climbing on the cabinets or going outside in the middle of a thunderstorm. So, what do you do?
Change your no to a yes.
One of the simple ways of changing a no to a yes is as simple as rephrasing your answer. I often use the phrase “You’re welcome to…”
“You’re welcome to go outside as soon as you finish your chore!”
“You’re welcome to play that game as soon as you finish your math worksheet.”
“You’re welcome to read that book after your nap.”
This rephrasing changes how the brain receives the information. You are essentially saying yes with a condition, but it is still a yes! This also shifts the burden of responsibility to the child, which gives him power over his choices. He can make going outside happen. He can make playing that game happen. He has a bit of control over his environment which makes him feel heard and more in control, in a positive way.
Warning! This doesn’t mean your child will comply willingly or immediately do what is asked of him. It’s a process. This new way of doing things won’t change a behavior overnight. Be loviningly firm. Don’t point out his failures. Just remind him it is up to him to be successful.
Some days here at the Guire Shire can get pretty hectic when kids and grandkids are here. One day we were doing a scavenger hunt outside and getting the kids out there is like rounding up cats. A child melted down, thinking she was missing out on the fun. The other kids beat her out the door while she was busy playing with play doh. True story. This is what happens next.
“I want to go outside!” accompanied by tears and wailing.
“You can go. Just get your shoes on,” her dad replied.
More wailing. Thrashing on the ground.
“_____________, You can go outside. Just get your shoes.”
“Where are your shoes?” That question activiated the upstairs brain in child. She answers. They find the shoes and she goes out the door for the scavenger hunt. He could have said, “No. You missed it, they already started. You were playing with play doh and not paying attention.” All were true. Except she didn’t miss it. She just got distracted. He gave her the power to choose to leave the play doh and go participate. He gave her a yes.
Another way of saying yes, is the Yes Jar.
Find out more, by clicking on the link and watching the video. Kayla North explains the hows and whys of the yes jar! The yes jar is a simple way of filling your day with yes!
There are lots of ways to add more yessing to your days. What creative ways have you used? Has this article made you think of some things you could try? Please share your examples and ideas! We’d love to hear from you!
Embracing the Privilige of Saying Yes is one of the 25 Parenting Tools taught in Empowered to Connect Parent Training for foster and adoptive parents. Want to know more? Click here. Why should you find an ETC Parent Trainer and sign up? Find out here.