You Can

Don’t you hate being told what to do?  Don’t you hate being told you can’t do something you REALLY want to do?

Imagine being at work and doing something wrong in the copy room and having your boss come up to you and say “NO”!  Wouldn’t that kinda suck?

Something I’ve learned a bit from my sister, a bit from reading, a bit from the professionals in my life is that telling a child what they can’t do, is actually opposite of what we should be doing.

Did you know that saying “no” to your child can be harmful to them?

Let me explain the best I can.

Most of us were brought up in an era of “no”.  Lording over your child and stifling their spirit was the norm of the age.  You never heard things like using positive language with your child or not saying no to them.  People often say that parents just need to learn how to say no.

Imagine you had grown up in a stable environment, stable parents, well-balanced with discipline and morals.  When you did something wrong you were told “no”.  When you asked to have a cookie you heard “no”.  Sleepover? “no”.  Boyfriend? “no!!!”

So imagine yourself growing up in a bit of a different way.  The same boundaries, morals, limitations and freedom but instead of hearing “no”, you heard “you can”.

When you did something wrong you heard “not okay”.  When you were asked to have a cookie you heard “you can have a cookie after supper”.  When you wanted a sleepover you heard “you can have a sleepover on the weekend, school nights you stay home”.  Boyfriend? ” we feel you are still a bit young, you can ask again when you are 13 (or 30)”.

What do you think the difference might be?

Do you think maybe your self-esteem might be higher?  Do you think you would have not thrown the temper tantrum over the cookie if you knew you were getting it after supper instead of just hearing “no”?  Do you think hearing “you can” over and over and over again might positively affect your self-worth and feelings of empowerment?  I do.

Actually lots of studies have proven that it DOES effect these parts of you.  Any professional that is dealing with children who has been taught in the last 10 or so years will have been taught to use positive language with the children.  It’s rare to find a good teacher that says no to the kids on a regular basis.

Perhaps we need to stop letting the experts be the only ones who speak expertly to our own children.

When I began using positive language it was REALLY hard.  It’s hard to think up a positive way to say no.  You eventually get the hang over it and, although you’ll never be perfect, you’ll find yourself using it with everyone in your life.  It works really well on husbands 🙂

Is there a place for the word no?


“no you cannot jump off the roof on to the trampoline”

“no you may not do drugs”

“no you cannot run in traffic”

“no you are not allowed to have sex until you are 30” 🙂

The really truly naughty stuff that you’d never ever allow them to do because it isn’t moral or safe?  By all means, say no!! Then it really means something.

“no you cannot have a cookie”  “no you may not do drugs”.  Kinda loses it’s effectiveness after a while.

When it’s something that is morally ok and safe then try your hardest to say yes, if you cannot, just tell them when they can.

I am so happy I talk this way (most of the time) with my children.  It avoids so much whining and tantrums.  They know what to expect, they feel empowered and they understand what’s coming to them.

If they still whine about it I say “a cookie after supper or no cookie at all”.  100% of the time they shut their little whine holes and wait till after supper.

end rant.

Next time: why I think saying “good girl” or “bad boy!!” is dangerous.


You know what else is positive?  Following me on Facebook and Twitter

1 comment

  1. Good reminder Leah! It takes some creative phrasing of things sometimes and it’s easy to drop the ball.

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