Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Protect Your Child's NO

Respect. It's a two way street. How can you earn respect if you don't respect others? A big part of respect is recognizing the other person's NO. A person who says no is a person who feels empowered over his property, his body and his purpose in life.

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

Many times in life, you as the wise, responsible parent will need to guide your child in the midst of hearing no no no from him or her. Everyone, no matter what parenting method used, is familiar with ways to say no, ways to force children to obey, ways to redirect, to distract, to bribe. And of course, some people know about healthy ways such as problem solving, team work, acknowledging, compromising, etc.

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.

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  1. beautiful, Guggy, just beautiful. thank you. i've suggested to patents who don't want to tell their child no,how will they learn to say no and experience their no respected?

  2. Thank you, this was lovely. My 22 month old is currently going through a phase of hating everything he loved before and fighting me over the silliest of things. I've not been sure how to handle it and have tried to force him to continue doing the things he screams and cries about, because he used to love them. I guess I'm as confused as he is....lol


  3. yes....Wonderfully stated!...ESPECIALLY 2nd,to,last sentence....sooo how do I deal with the Grandmas and In-Laws how to think its,cute to 'bop' his,nose or wiggle his cheeks???...Truly , we Adults DO NOTgreet each other in this manner!!! I am doing a darn good job of ASKING HIM if I may kiss him (on the head) and/or massage his,back/shoulders/legs....(yes .he is only 9months) (double yes, I BELIEVE he understands,entirely....AND YES .I DO TREAT,HIM AS SUCH...and,as,a,result he is happy, confident and trusting)

  4. Thank you! Great post! I usually have trouble explaining why I let my children do "bad" things like not share or not hug their grandma goodbye or not acknowledge a stranger at store or somewhere, but I guess it is all connected. I know that I am not capable of saying "no" and standing up for myself, I want my children to be better at it.

    Also, whenever I have heard my child saying "no" an unreasonable amount (unreasonable even in my mind) it has ALWAYS put a quick end to it for me to evaluate my own speech and interactions with them and remove all the unnecessary "no's" I tell them and how often I refuse to go along with what they want to do (because usually it is small things I'm capable of, like "mom, come see my picture!" and I just get in a habit of refusing from time to time).