Kids hear a lot of “no” throughout the course of a day. No, you can’t stay up as late as you want; no, you can’t ride your bike without a helmet; no, you can’t shove your sister. It’s easy for “no” to become somewhat of a reflex answer to any new or odd request, often before you’ve even really processed it (the same way kids also seem to lean toward “no” with us). “No” often requires less time and less effort on our part.
But Joanna Goddard writes for A Cup of Jo that, as a young parent, she heard some parenting advice that stuck with her: Challenge that tendency toward the automatic no, and “aim for yes.” Because some things are always going to be a “no” — and rightfully so. But not everything has to be, Goddard explains:
For example, here are few recent scenes at home:
- Toby wanted to wear his bathing suit in the bath
- Anton wanted to jump from one sofa to the other
- Toby wanted to mix milk and water
- Anton wanted to wear pajamas to the grocery store
- Anton wanted to lie down on the skateboard
- Toby wanted to wear shorts on a chilly day
- Anton wanted to sleep upside down (feet on pillow)
My knee-jerk reaction is sometimes to say no — I mean, just hop in the bath, just drink your milk — but then I think: why not? If it’s not hurting anyone, and they find it exciting or enticing for some reason, who cares? “Aim for yes” runs through my mind, and I say go for it.
Saying yes encourages their creativity. It gives them more opportunities to explore, to indulge their curiosity, and to build their confidence.
If they want to wear last year’s Halloween costume to the store? Sure, I guess, why not? If they want to pull all your pots and pans into the middle of the kitchen floor to create the world’s most annoying drum set? There are worse things; have at it! Whenever you have the extra time (or patience), you can try to aim for yes.
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