Around my house there are two constants. Food and toys. And this has to be common in 99% of homes with kids 3-7 across the country, so feel comforted knowing that we are all working on fighting the same battles. And there are 385,000,000 google results on “how to get my child to pick up toys”. So here’s my two cents on the classic battle. Say Yes.
You heard me right. When you child says, “Can I get another toy out”. Say Yes. If they don’t ask, and are standing I front of you with a new one, say, “Yes, you can get that out.” But don’t stop there. There’s a second sentence that you should say as well. I’ll get to it in a minute.
First, Studies have shown that welfare children hear 80,000 encouraging words, and 500,000 negative words. The average middle class child hears the opposite. Sometimes, all it takes is being nice.
But being endless, bubbly, over optimistic people isn’t what we’re saying here. Where I’m going with this is two directions. 1) Saying yes to get what we (as parents) want and 2) letting go of some things
And I take the second part first.
When I was told, in a parenting class of all places, to ‘default to yes’, I was told that there probably weren’t any good reasons to be saying no. Saying yes hurts very little, and saying no needs to mean a lot. Saying yes is about letting go of my control freak issues. Saying no was me not being an authoritative parent. Saying no when your child is about to step out into the road – that needs to register with them. It’s not really a big deal if your kid wants to go over to that snowbank. It’s not a big deal if your kid wants to bring his stuffed animal in the car. I know you’d rather not have them get their shoes wet, or take 3 minutes to go upstairs to get their stuffys, but you risk being a commanding authoritative parent and losing the war, by winning these inconsequential battles. So that first part was saying yes because, whatever it is, is not a big of a deal.
The scond part: that Saying yes to get what we (as parents) want: Here’s the deal with that
So back to our examples of toys and meals.
This main area where I’ve learned to say yes is at mealtime. Great example coming up here. Just tonight, I deviously set the jar of applesauce on the dinner table with the kids premade dinner plates. And sure enough, three bites in, my little man, who loves fruit, said, “can I have applesauce?” And he hadn’t eaten his dinner. Our dinner rules are that you need to finish what’s on your plate first. So I said Yes. Yup. Yes, you can absolutely have applesauce … as soon as you finish the vegetables on your plate. And he did, and it was a parenting win with zero tears, and veggies in the belly. It’s that second part. Yes you may __whatever__, as soon as you ___ do something I want you to do___.
And from there, we just keep adding to the encouraging words, and limiting the nos and my wife and I are getting what we want too.