Just Say No (Part 5)

As I have said a number of times in my Just Say No series, this philosophy is not about depriving your child of their wants, needs or opportunities.  Just Say No is more about teaching a child about the realities of life. Just Say No is about teaching your child that in life there are boundaries which they must respect, things they cannot have and perhaps most importantly there will be disappointment and sadness with which they must deal.

I personally dislike saying NO  more often than I enjoy uttering this simple little adverb. I don’t particularity get any maniacal pleasure out of denying my childrens’ requests but sometimes it is necessary for my sanity, my bank account and most importantly my children’s emotional health.

The reality is, that the odds are stacked against a child that goes through life never wanting for anything or having to deal with the emotions associated with denial and disappointment. As this type of child grows into an adult, they are almost guaranteed to encounter  issues around self esteem, depression and anger as they try and navigate a world which has no interest in accommodating their every want and need.

It is crucial that children encounter denial and the emotion of disappointment on a frequent basis. This is especially important to do this when they are young and the things to which you are saying NO to are small and insignificant. It is during this time you have the opportunity to help your child experience disappointment in a safe, nurturing environment while you teach them appropriate responses and behaviors associated with this emotion.

As your child grows and the things to which you need to say NO to are more significant, your child should respond in an appropriate manner. What is perhaps even more rewarding is that when you do say “YES”, your child may actually feel genuine gratitude and perhaps even joy as a result of your generous accommodation of their request.

If we use my daughters desire for an ipod as an example, (See Previous Post) besides there being absolutely no need for her to have one at age 10, we are accomplishing a number of things by denying her request.

  • We are giving her the opportunity to be disappointed.
  • We have an opportunity to teach her the appropriate response to being told NO.
  • It allows her to come to terms and to cope with this denial.
  • It teaches her that simply because she wants something, does not mean she will get it.
  • It teaches her patience. (good things come to those who wait)
  • It allows us to set expectations and criteria which need to be met before we will even consider getting her an iPod.
  • It sets her up for a truly joyous event when she does get an iPod.
  • It provides my wife and I the opportunity to teach a lesson about gratitude.
  • It teaches her about self respect and bolsters her self esteem.

It is simply common sense. Giving children everything they want does absolutely nothing to prepare them for their lives as adults. Life is about earning your way not about having everything handed to you.

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