No one wants to be told no. Of course that’s true. But parents forget it. Little kids spend the first few decades constantly told no. Why? It’s easy for parents to say no.
We have a rule in our house. If you can not justify the no, then you should say no. This started when the kids were babies. There’s something to this rule. It has us slow down and think about how to explain our thought process to the kids. They may not like the answer but they are learning why we think the situation deserves a no.
Tell the kid why you do not want them to do something. Let them think about it. Let them make their own decisions. Sometimes they will be bad decisions. Oftentimes they may not know they are bad decisions. But they are learning. Why do parent focus so much on teaching them just follow? Why is there such a need to control? Instead shouldn’t we focus our attention on teaching the kids why they are told to do what they are told to do?
Letting them make their own decisions also teaches them that there are consequences to their decisions. No where in this article am I saying there shouldn’t be discipline. Not saying no is not the same thing as not enforcing no. Instead it is explaining why. If your son is running around with scissors, or hitting their sibling you should stop the situation. Please don’t confuse not saying no with anarchy.
Something amazing happens when you need to justify the no. They’ll learn to overcome the no. This sounds horrible, but it isn’t. Sometimes its funny. But other times the discussion leads to alternatives that solve everyone’s problem.
An example from seconds ago . I told my son it’s time to go back to bed and finish napping. He said “I don’t want to be in my room”. I asked “why not”. He said “because I need to go pee”. Ahhh! OK buddy! If I said “no, go back to your room and nap”, he would have wet his bed.
This is a two way street. This isn’t just about us telling the kid no or switching the conversation to why. It’s also about the kid not telling us no. Another example from today. My wife is trying to get out family out the door to head to the swimming pool. The twins are loaded up and ready to go in their stroller. My wife is ready to go. The son is the only one not ready to walk out the door. My wife and I both told him several times that it’s time to go. He said no.
This is frustrating as a parent. I know. I was irritated. My wife stepped over and asked him why he said no. He explained he need 3 more minutes to park his train at the train station. I thought about it and said, “you know what, you and I will bike there and bikes are faster than walking”. He was happy. 5 minutes later he hopped up, put his shoes on, and said “train’s in the station. c’mon let’s go. I’m ready!”. Everyone is happy. No battle needed.
This ties together with FIRE. I don’t follow what I’m told as yes or no. I am driven by understanding why rules exist. Sometimes rules are nonsense. Sometimes rules are just arbitrary. Arbitrary rules are ripe for breaking. Social convention is made to be broken. Working for 40+ years of your life is a waste of your life, in my opinion. Challenge the status quo. Challenge the system. I am too naive to realize it’s odd to buy a rental house at age 21. I am too naive to not realize it’d easy to retire early if you realize you can. If I listened to people tell me no, I would be a miserable person. I am not. I’m happy.