Have you ever wished your child would obey right away when you say “no” or “come”?
Most parents and teachers of young children struggle with this on a daily basis! One piece of wisdom I learned early on when my children were young was to save your NOs. It is as simple as using “please don’t” and “no” for different things. Use “please don’t” when you want your child to stop poking her sister or yelling at the cat. Save your “no” for when you want your child to stop from running in the street or touching a hot stove. NO can be reserved for imminent danger or direct defiance. Sure, you will probably use them interchangeably some of the time, but if you will save your NOs for when it’s really important that your child obey immediately, you can teach your child to obey right away when you say “NO!” Delayed obedience is disobedience no matter how you phrase your request, but that’s for another blog post. When you do have to say NO, make it a teachable moment. Take time shortly afterward to talk to your child about what the danger or defiance was.
Just as you want your child to obey and stop the displeasing behavior, you want to check yourself as a parent or teacher and make sure your behavior is pleasing. Don’t get caught up in the whining that mimics the behavior of a child. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Your child should be able to count on the fact that you were serious when you said “please don’t” or “no” so that they know you want them to obey right away.
Parents who overuse “NO” run the risk of their children ignoring their directions either because the child believes the parents don’t really mean it or there are no consequences attached to disobeying. Saving your NOs will spare arguments with tweens and teens if you choose to say “Let’s talk about this some more” instead of immediately saying no. Spouses or coworkers are also in danger of overusing NO if it’s their automatic response. In the next post we will talk about learning to say YES.
Table Talk: Do people believe that you mean what you say? Do you save your NO’s with your family or coworkers for important things?