Choosing to Say Yes to Your Child

Little kids want to do everything and get into everything, don’t they?

Sometimes what they want to do is great! You want to play in your room quietly absorbed in puzzles for half an hour? Please!

Sometimes what they want to do is a little less awesome. It’s messy. It’s noisy. It involves death-defying moves off the tallest furniture.

Three-year-old Dylan’s special talent is getting into things and dumping them all over the floor. If I’m lucky it’s his own toys. But it’s just as likely to be the bag from the vacuum cleaner, something out of the refrigerator, or the entire silverware drawer.

Or it’s bringing a bucket of dirt in from outside, and… let’s just say I don’t have the cleanest carpets in the world!

One of my roles as a parent is to decide whether to let my child do something or not.

Additional Reading: The Idle Parent: Why Laid-Back Parents Raise Happier and Healthier Kids (affiliate link)

I am the guardian of YES and NO.

This is a powerful responsibility.

It’s easy to treat “no” as the default answer. More often than not what a small child wants to do is messy, slightly dangerous, or really boring. No just comes out automatically.

To us, our NO is often casual and unimportant in the scheme of things.

To a small child, that NO is restrictive and closes off their desire for experience.

One no can too easily turn into a day full of no.

What can a parent do?

Choose to say yes to your child more often. Push for YES. Push a little bit past your own boundaries, preferences, and reflexive reactions.

Try out these thoughts:

YES, you can do the messy thing that takes me mere moments to clean up. It will build a sense of creativity and exploration that will last you a lifetime.

YES, you can do the risky thing, because I’ll be here to catch you. If I don’t catch you, I’ll be here to comfort you, and that’s important, too.

YES, I will help you with the boring things, the annoying things, and the things that waste my time. This time we have together is so fleeting and so short.

Of course, no is going to happen sometimes anyway. There are plenty of good reasons to say no.

But there are even more good reasons to say yes to your child. Sometimes you can even say nothing. A little change in your perspective can shift the balance. You can offer your child a life of freedom, creativity, and experimentation.

YES. Because life is too amazing to spend on NO.