Are you struggling to say “no” to your kids?
Learning to deal with not getting whatever they want is an essential life skill.
Parents who are afraid to put their foot down usually have children who step on their toes. —Chinese proverb
Believe it or not, parents do their children a tremendous disservice when they don’t give them the experience of being told “no.” For many parents, it’s consistently enticing to say yes to their children’s wishes—particularly if they can afford to gratify those wishes, but often even if they really can’t. Parents naturally want their kids to be happy.
However, the happiness provided by material things is fleeting at best, and research shows there’s a deviation-amplifying side to needing to have the next new “thing,” be it the must-have toy of the moment or the latest smartphone model. It fosters a sense of deficiency that can only be sated temporarily.
Your kids may be extremely grateful when they first receive the new “hot” item, but all too frequently that fades to black as soon as the next new hotness hits the market. At that point, in the minds of such kids, what they have is quickly rendered obsolete and deeply unsatisfying. And, if you give in and get your kids that newest hotness, when the next iteration becomes available, the dynamic is repeated. This becomes an ongoing vicious circle that creates unhappiness and dissatisfaction.
Among the most valuable lessons you can teach your kids is that genuine happiness isn’t found in getting what you want; it’s embedded in appreciating and making the most of what you have.
Learning how to deal with not getting what you want and when you want it is an essential skill that everyone needs to develop.
There Are A Range Of Reasons Many Parents Are Loath To Set And Enforce Limits With Their Kids:
- They don’t want to be subjected to their kids’ upset/anger
- They’re compensating for guilt related to past experiences with their kids
- They have an unhealthy desire to be friends with their kids
- They believe their kids should have everything they want
- They want their kids to have more than they did as children themselves
- They don’t want their kids to be deprived as they may have been
Do any of these resonate with you?
Even for parents who, for whatever reason(s), do everything they can to avoid saying no to their kids, there will inevitably come a point when they want to and must impose limits. This will be a new form of hell for all involved. When your children are accustomed to being overindulged, not getting whatever they want inevitably feels to them like deprivation.
Saying No Is A Form Of Setting Limits.
Naturally, your kids will test the limits you set and test you to confirm whether or not those limit are for real. They may beg, plead, whine, cry, tantrum up a storm, get extremely angry, or all of the above. Partly this reflects their distress at not getting what they want, but they also want to see if they can get you to give in.
If you give in, you send the message to your kids that “no” doesn’t necessarily mean no, and that if they beg, plead, whine, or cry, they’ll get what they want. Giving in reinforces your kids’ cringe-inducing behavior, making it more likely to recur and more difficult to extinguish.
The slipperiness of this slope can’t be overstated. If you are firm and hold to the limits you set consistently, your kids will progressively learn to accept those limits much more easily and quickly.
On the other hand, if you hold firm initially but then relent because your kids wear you down and get you to give in by continuing to beg, plead, whine, or cry, in essence, what you’ve taught them is that if they just beg, plead, whine, or cry long enough, eventually they’ll get what they want.