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3 ways to squash the 'no' mom in you
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3 ways to squash the ‘no’ mom in you

I’m the mom of a one-year-old active, little boy. He is into everything, breaking everything, climbing on everything, jumping on everything and so forth. All day long, to keep my home in one piece and my sanity intact, I am constantly saying “Don’t do that.” “Get off of there.” “No, we don’t put that in our mouths.” But the other day, I realized that needs to change.

As I was feeding my son his breakfast, I’d ask him a question and he’d tell me “no” while shaking his head. This carried on throughout the entire day and after I got over the initial “Oh, I love watching him learn new things” phase, I realized that he learned to say no from me. I am guilty of telling my son “no” all day long instead of letting him be a fun-loving, energetic little boy. I realized I needed to re-evaluate my parenting to ensure my son knew his home was a place where he could enjoy and be himself.

Here are the steps I took to help me learn to say “yes” and relax a little more often.

Set boundaries

There is a time and place to say “no.” It is important you are a responsible parent and teach your children, but you can also let them have fun and enjoy their childhood. As my son started to become mobile, mess after mess would appear around my home. I do not like clutter, and I am known as a bit of neat freak. So I would pick up as he would move from one mess to another.

Finally, my mom gave me some wise words. She said “You have to let your house be livable for a child. You have to let your child love to play there and not feel like it isn’t a comfortable setting.” From then on, I realized it was OK that I had toys scattered from one end of the house to another and my floor still had the morning’s breakfast crumbs on it. I don’t need to say “no” to food that makes messes or games with a hundred pieces. I simply learned when it was appropriate to say “no” and when to let my son experience his childhood. Here are some tips on allowing a child to learn important lessons by themselves.

Provide options

When you let your child make his own choices, you are teaching him a valuable lesson. You are teaching him how to decide the best option for himself. Additionally, when you provide the options, you will be more satisfied with their choice and won’t find yourself saying, “no” as often. This is an excellent technique when it comes to playing or eating for a young child. If you don’t want your child to eat a sugary snack, give them several options that you approve of. If you don’t want your child to play with a certain object, provide additional options for him or her to play with. You will be satisfied with their choices, and they will be more content because they chose it for themselves.

Be creative

Instead of telling your child “no” find a way to be assertive and still give your child what he or she may desire. For example, if your child wants to play with her friends, tell her she can go once she accomplishes her chores and her homework. If your child wants a snack right before dinner, tell her that you are going to set the snack by her plate and if she finishes her dinner, she can have it.

When situations arise that you are tempted to say “no,” think before you speak and see if there is an alternative way to tell your child “no”, but still provide them with the results they desire. This is also a great way to teach your children the importance of compromise. If your child throws a fit about the situation or does not abide by the terms, explain to him that he did not follow through with his agreement and so he must accept the consequences.

You don’t always have to say “no” to your child. You can let him have some fun, enjoy his childhood and learn valuable lessons along the way.

Courtnie Erickson loves spending time with her husband and her adorable newborn son. Email her at courtnie.erickson@gmail.com.