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How many times have you said “NO” to your kids, yet they still keep on asking? Ummm…how about every second of every hour of every day. Yeah…in my house too! If your answer is never, I don’t believe you!

Does this scenario sound familiar?

“Mommy can we have ice cream?”

“No, not tonight sweetie.”

“Please….”

“No, it’s too late and I don’t want you having all that sugar before bedtime.”

“Come on…we were so good today…please?”

“I really don’t think it’s a good idea and you already had plenty of junk today.”

“But we really want it…just a little…please?”

“Alright, one spoonful and then right to bed, okay?”

“Yes, thank you mommy, you‘re the best!”

“Yah, yah, yah…remember you said that when Mommy asks you to something, like clean your room.”

Let’s break down what just happened:

The kids asked for ice cream and you firmly said no the first time, however, you allowed them to keep on asking. They used their manners, said please again and you gave a second explanation. The kids kept begging, gave you a reason why they thought they deserved the ice cream and you hesitated, but stuck to your guns.

You continued to deny them the sweet treat but the kids were not taking “no” for an answer. You caved and agreed to a small amount. Your kids are thrilled and you are now their hero (for the moment). They end up winning this argument, which you lose, although think you won, because your kids think you are awesome.

Now let’s break it down even further:

When you permitted the conversation to continue, the kids did not take you seriously and did not truly believe you meant “no”. It sounded like you didn’t really want to say “no” but felt it was the best choice for your kids. By teetering on your opinion of the situation, you lost control and your kids gained all the power.

If you struggle with saying no, your kids will pick up on that and will learn that “no” does not always mean “no”. It is normal to want your kids to be happy but there needs to be boundaries and respect. What mom (and dad) says goes!

Would a little ice cream really be that bad? The kids were actually really good today so shouldn’t I reward them? I remember asking for something as a kid and not understanding why I wasn’t allowed to have it so shouldn’t I be sympathetic to my own kids? It is easy to lose focus and ask yourself these questions but your job as the parent is to create rules that are meant to be followed, even by you!

If kids think they can wear you down and know your “no” will eventually turn into a “yes”, there is little authority and respect for you.

Let’s look at an alternative scenario:

“Mommy, can we have ice cream?”

“No, not tonight.”

“Please…”

“I love your manners but no means no the first time.”

“Why not? We were so good today.”

“Yes, you were excellent today and I really appreciate that but you don’t always get rewarded for good behavior, which is expected of you. It’s almost time for bed and it is way too late for ice cream. You asked and Mommy answered and the answer is still no. Now let’s get into our pajamas and Mommy will read you an extra book.”

Let’s break down what just happened:

The kids asked for ice cream and you firmly said “no” the first time. They figured good manners would change your answer but you stayed firm on that “no”. The children did not understand why they could not have ice cream and seemed to need an explanation before they could accept your “no”.

You wanted them to understand why you said “no” by providing a short explanation, while still sticking to your guns. Before they had a chance to respond, you changed the subject and offered to read them a book instead, all while keeping your cool and without raising your voice.

Now let’s break it down even further:

You allowed the conversation to continue after your initial “no”, however remained in control. It was important for you to recognize your child’s manners of saying, “please”, especially when you have taught them the benefits of saying “please” their whole lives.

The focus of the discussion became about the “why”, which you found to be a fair question instead of fighting the “NO”. The children did not understand why they could not have ice cream, especially since they felt they earned it.

You recognized their good behavior, which validates their question and let them know you are hearing what they are saying. By changing the subject and offering an extra book, it took the focus away from the ice cream and the kids felt like they were still getting a reward. You did not question your initial “no” in your mind, leading to zero hesitance on your part, which the kids picked up and could not use to their advantage.

While it is so easy to get frustrated, raise your voice, repeat the “NO” and end it there, a conversation is way more effective.

While you might not end up being your children’s hero or hearing how awesome you are with the latter scenario, the respect you will gain and the lesson you will teach, will make you your own hero. The second scenario takes a lot of more patience, but at the end of the day, you end up feeling better about how you handled the situation.

Instead of your children feeling under appreciated for their good behavior because you shot down their request for a specific reward, they know you are aware of it and grateful for their recent demonstration of good actions.

It is so easy to become the “because I said so” parent for many reasons (believe me, I have been there many of times). Your patience is wearing thin, you do not feel you owe your child an explanation of your decision making, you had a bad day, etc. This is totally normal and expected, however next time you find yourself in a situation similar to the above storyline, try something different from your normal response, (similar to scenario number two) and see what happens. You may just be surprised at the outcome!

TOGETHER WE CAN MASTER MOTHERHOOD!™

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