Benefits of Consistency: Saying "No"
As a parent of young children, there are days when it feels like all I do is say “no”. It inevitably becomes a part of our every days with young children. As children are learning and exploring their world, it is our job to teach them and show them their boundaries. One of the ways we do that is by saying “no”.
To be honest, this part of parenting wears on me and can be really discouraging and overwhelming. It’s hard to see results during the day in and day out. A wise older Mama friend once gave me some advice way back when I only had one child. She told me to pick your “no’s” wisely (pun intended J). If it is not necessary to say no, don’t. Say “yes” as much as you can. After that advice, I really try and think through the times that I say no, being intentional to only when it is necessary.
However, it IS necessary at times, ESPECIALLY when our kids are younger with more new things in their world to explore. Being consistent with guidelines can be difficult but can also be really rewarding. Here’s how:
1. Your child knows what to expect
Think through your child's behaviors and your safety concerns and decide (as much as possible) the things you will say no to. Obviously some things will have to be decided in the moment, but think ahead as much as possible.
Also, think ahead to how you will say it. Tone of voice can play a big role in your child's reaction. A firm, but not angry voice, can let your child know you are serious. Angry voices, in my experience, tend to elevate the drama and sometimes evoke the opposite response that you are looking for and most of the time is a heart issue on the part of the parent too.
When you do these things consistently, it creates something that your child can rely on for discipline and in turn builds feelings of security.
2. You know what to expect
Not only for the child's benefit, but it's nice as a parent to have consistency when you discipline.
Think through, know, and practice what you will do if your child does not comply when you tell them "no"and follow through every time. Once it is determined as a family what will happen if a child disobeys then you have a structure on which to rely when the situation arises. Which is so good to have when your three year old draws on the wall (again) after you have said no and your blood is boiling. You take a deep breath and follow your plan.
3. Consistent Results
As with most things you consistently work towards, your results will be consistent. HOPEFULLY if you are consistent to tell a child "no" when they reach for a cord or outlet they will start to remember and obey consistently (for example).
If you are not seeing results that you want or need, reevaluate your plan and make changes. Determine the importance of what you are saying no to (is it a safety concern or just a convenience? Are their other ways to redirect behavior?)
4. Long-term results
Ultimately, working consistently towards a goal help bring to a point of saying "no" less and less. The concepts stay the same as kids age and new opportunities arise, but the goal is to work yourself out of a job, so to speak.
Consistency has benefits for everyone involved. Don’t forget to take deep breaths and stay the course! It will pay off!