Just Say No… An Analogy (Part 3)

child on fenceIn the beginning when your child is small, so to are the things which your darling little child wants but you instinctively feel the need to say NO to. Things like wanting to stay up past bed time, sharing your bed with a pint sized mix master,  the toy in the store window, the extended play at the park… The list is almost endless and so to are the opportunities for parents to say NO!

Now please understand that the goal here is not to simply say “NO!” to everything, it is to make people understand that saying “NO” and making it mean something, is not a bad thing. In fact it is the foundation of a healthy secure childhood.

If you have time to extend the play at the park, then please do so or if you really enjoy getting punched and kicked repeatedly in the middle of  the night by your child, by all means fill your boots. The problem arises when you do not have the time for the extended play or you really need a good nights sleep and the child does not take “NO!” for an answer. It is imperative that when you say “No!” to the little things in the beginning, that the child responds. They need to understand that you dictate the who, how, where and when of  the world they live in. It is these little things that lay the ground work for the big things later in life and when you need to say “NO!” for your child’s safety and well being.

Let me use an analogy to explain how I feel using the word “No!”works.

Think of the word “NO” as a fence posts, solid and unmoving and your family expectations and values are the boards which go between. When your child is born you begin to build this fence to provide a safe environment in which your child can grow and explore. Your child can depend  and predict what their world inside this fence will provide for them. Of course there is access to the outside world but you are the gate keeper and you determine when and how your child ventures into that world but they can always return the the safety of the fence.

Now think of child where the fence posts are grounded in sand, unstable and hardly secure. It is impossible to anchor anything to these posts because they yield at the slightest push. The child knows that if they push hard enough they can easily escape the confines of the safe environment their parents have tried to create. Certainly this provides the child with opportunity to explore the world beyond the fence but there are no boundaries in the child’s life. With no boundaries, no limits, no safe place to retreat to. The child is not grounded to anything other than their own free will, hardly a safe or nurturing environment to grow up in.

“No!” is not a word of denial but of a word of a secure, nurturing environment. Use it properly and your child will grow to understand boundaries and how to live within them. They will understand the importance of boundaries in their relationships, their work, their friendships… In their life.

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