Often I receive emails and private messages begging for advice on how to break that inherent will in their child. How can a child be broken down? How can a child lose that inner confidence, that inner dignity powering the loud word, "NO?"
Someone who says no still believes she is worth it. Someone who says no still believes he can change his life. Someone who says no is in fact full of hope and trust. Especially when the no is directed at a parent.
No. Hear me. Love me. Accept me. No. Protect my body. Honor my wishes. Know my inner desires. No. I am worthy. I deserve what I want. I have needs and they are important. No. No. No.
What have we done to the Child's No in our culture?
"If you think about it, our culture is focused on telling children they cannot say no, they cannot set boundaries and they cannot protect their property and bodies from others. Parents consistently tell children from birth onwards that children have no right to themselves. The parents will surgically alter their children to suit their sexual and aesthetic preference.
They will tell children to sleep when not tired and to eat when not hungry. When sad, they are to shut up and "be okay" about it. When happy, they are to shut up and calm down about it. Children are forced to say goodbye and hello, to tolerate strangers touching them and to give away their belongings to other children. On top of it all, children are forced to accept physical touch when they do not want it, such as kisses and hugs from family members.
I just want my children to know they can say NO." ~Sanfis Daly
My question to you is: What do you do to encourage the word NO? What do you do to support and affirm your child as he yells out, "NO!" What about when the no is unspoken, seen only in the concerned look of her eyes as a person gets too close to her? What about the no in the body, as a child turns his head away or pulls his shoulders back? What about the warning of a no, when a child grabs her doll, watching someone come over, worrying that her personal belonging will be snatched away?
Are you protecting your child's NO? I challenge you to find ways every day to celebrate your child's use of the word no. I dare you (when appropriate/safe) to immediately acknowledge your child's no and to immediately respond to it positively. What if, by doing this, you provided your child with a sense that she is trusted, respected, capable and worthy? What if, by doing this every day, he began to realize that you have his best wishes at heart and that you hear what he wants and needs? What do you think will happen?
I had this fun idea! I was going to make a video showing people how to double ergo. My daughter didn't want to participate.
A short while later, she chose to ride in the ergo after all. When your child feels secure, confident and acknowledged, the constant fighting, tantrums and "NOs" tend to go away. I dare you to try this for a few weeks.