Yesterday we talked about the idea that children in welfare situations here more negative and ‘no’ words than their middle class counterparts. And it has an effect. It’s the baseline of our awareness. You define yourself as you grow by knowing, “I am told I can do many things” Or “I am told I can’t do anything”. It’s fairly clear cut.
And yesterday’s episode was terribly important. It may be one of the biggest changes and revelations I’ve had in my parenting life. That’s worth paying attention to. And the answer was to default to yes. Yes, you may __do what you want___, as soon as __ you do what needs to be done___. And if there is nothing in that second part of the sentence, the one where you as a parent can insert a task – whether that’s to finish your plate, or pickup toys, if there’s nothing there – say yes. Because I found myself saying no, just because.
Need more convincing? There are a few more phsyc things that happen.
Now I by no means want my children to grow up never hearing the word no. I still use it everyday. But cutting down makes it’s use way more effective. And that makes parenting easier.
First, there's the way your child might interpret the word "no." Suzette Haden Elgin, Ph.D., … says, … “If you fail to offer any empathetic reasoning or realistic expectations as to why you can't assuage your child immediately, they'll eventually internalize that "no" to mean there's no point in talking to you at all. Understanding the "why" behind the "no" is a vital part of your chid's development.”
To me this, is why parents who try, succeed. Trying is often thought of as trying to run a marathon, but in this case, trying is simply explaining the things you think are implied, to a child who doesn’t understand all that yet.
Last, Neuroscientist Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Prof. Mark Robert Waldman, talk about the consequence of hearing "no," equating the release of stress hormones with the negative reaction to the word. The result can be an anxious, irritable child who eventually becomes incommunicable.
To me this isn’t every child. Some are going to handle life better than others, but if you have one of these kids who can go off the deep end, saying something like “Yes, You may kick and scream, but please do it in the other room because it hurts my ears,” is a great way to help them become aware of what’s acceptable in our presence, and with my philosophy on self-awareness – the rest will start to take care of itself.