Some say it’s a parents job to often say no, and show a child who’s in charge. Others say to avoid the word no as much as possible.
So, what about me? I have written previously about my tips for a peaceful life with preschoolers. My general parenting strategy with young children is to be firm on the things that do really matter, and have a more lenient attitude towards the rest. For example, if my two year old does not want to hold my hand while crossing the road – that is non negotiable, but if he wants to keep stopping and looking at leaves, cars, cats and whatever else he finds on his travels, then fine (as long as we are not running late for an appointment obviously)
This post about “A Lifetime of Yes Moments” from Let’s Lasso the Moon really sums this up. If you like my Facebook Page you may have seen me share this a couple of weeks back. It’s a simple thing, but I think it’s just being concious of this change in mind frame from where we are constantly saying “no” almost as a reflex. I know that when I am tired or stressed (or both!) I notice myself saying no to things when really a yes would have done no harm and would have allowed a more pleasant, fun and relaxed atmosphere in the house. Saying no to everything can undermine those times when we really do want to say no, and really mean it. Saying yes lightens the atmosphere in the home and allows parent and child to enjoy each others company.
It’s easy to get into a negative cycle where it feels like you are constantly having to tell your child off, or stop them from doing things. I sometimes see parents making a big issue out of minor things, in a way that brings a lot of unnecessary conflict into the home. I have done this myself at times, again normally when tired or stressed, and always end up regretting this when I make these kind of mistakes.
By saying yes more, I don’t mean that I give in to all my kids’ demands or buy them everything they want! More like, if they asked for sweets/cake/whatever before dinner, you could just say “no” or you could say “yes, after dinner”. If they wanted a toy in a shop you could just say “no” but if I say they can keep it mind for their birthday or Eid this won’t have the same effect of just snapping a quick “no” and rushing them away from the item.
I want my children to feel confident, well loved and proud of who they are. Encouragement and praise is a vital part of that. To me, discipline is not just about ‘correcting wrongs’ but about building a child with a good character, who will grow up to be someone that contributes positively to society. This post from Pint Sized Treasures on how to build up and encourage your toddler gives 5 practical steps on this, and I fully agree with those.
Of course, correcting mistakes is part of discipline. It’s inevitable that something will go wrong somewhere along the line. Children will always make mistakes, their impulses do get the better of them. These are all a chance for them to learn, so that they don’t repeat that mistake again! I don’t think a lenient attitude towards some things with your child should ever stop you from laying down firm boundaries where it really matters. To me, safety and kindness to others are my first concerns, and I also really can’t stand destructive behaviour. If the children purposely break or ruin something, that is a big deal to me.
We also can’t forget the massive influence our own behaviour will have on our children. The best way to discipline and shape a child’s character is to have a good character ourselves. Rather than focusing only on their behaviour and mistakes, we can look at our own and see that change reflected back to us in our children.