Often, my mother and I laugh about the fact that my first word at a young at was “no.” My mom jokes about the irony in my first word and my strong personality in being innovative and doing things my own way, or thinking outside of the box. While we can both agree to the characteristics in my personality, my mother has also voiced her “wondering if you heard ‘no’ a lot growing up?”

The idea of saying “yes” more often does not so much involve your child getting to do whatever he/she wants, but more so challenges us as parents to intentionally reframe our go-to “no, because I said so” to giving options to our children that we (and them) can say yes to. It’s a win-win for both parent and child!

The word itself is inviting and empowering!

Have you ever experienced your child asking the same question over and over to find your answer being the same “no” over and over? In my experience, my toddler asks to play with playdough every.single.morning and every.single.morning I find myself thinking “how many times do I have to say no?” Saying “yes” to playdough in the mornings is not something I can do given our morning schedule; however, other activities I can say “yes” to are stickers and stamps or coloring.

After learning about the power of saying “yes,” my conversations went from this:

Toddler: “I play with playdough?”

Me: “no, not this morning, we need to get ready for school.”

Toddler: “But I want to play with playdough!”

Me: “No means no.”

Toddler: *proceeding to have a meltdown*

Me: *Thinking to myself* I don’t have time for playdough, much less a meltdown!

To this:

Toddler: “I play with playdough?”

Me: “I know you would really like to play with playdough, but we don’t have time to cut out all of the stars you really like! I can get your stickers and stamps or coloring books, what do you choose?”

Toddler: “But I want to play with playdough!”

Me: “I know you would really like to play with playdough, however, your choices are stickers and stamps or coloring books. What do you choose?”

Toddler: “I play with my stickers.”

Me: “That is a great choice. I can say yes to stickers!”

Did you notice in the latter scenario, both mother and child were able to say yes? It is gratifying as a parent to be able to say “yes” to the questions and needs of your child and it is empowering for the child to be able to make a choice and say “yes” to fulfilling a need or want that they may have at the time.

It is through the “yes” that you are nurturing your child’s needs, engaging in his interests, and building the gift of trust.