What's Your "No" Number?
Think about it... how many times do you say NO to your boy - in a day, in an hour, in the next few minutes?
"No" might also be: "Stop" and "Don't."
I challenge you to make an honest assessment of yourself and note how many times you say no to your boy.
And his reaction to your no.
Then, find out how many times he is told no at school or day care.
And his reaction to their no.
REFLECT for YOURSELF:
How do you feel, as an adult, when another adult tells you no, or stop, or don't?
Remember a time, as a child, that you were told no - how did it feel?
Where did it live in your body?
What did it compel you to do next?
How do you feel, as a parent, when you tell your child no?
Are You Watering NO Down?
Don't get me wrong, there are absolutely times when it is appropriate to say NO! and STOP! and DON'T!
When we over-use those words, they lose their power, though.
You want them to have full-power when your child is running out into the street.
So use these words sparingly!
Make the No Into a Yes:
I recently observed in a kindergarten play yard.
Kids were active in the sandbox, on the swings, and generally running around.
However, the boys were told no way more often than the girls.
Granted, the boys were engaged in much more active play (because that's how boys like to play).
For every no the teacher told them, I could see ways that their behavior could be a yes.
It can be challenging at first to see ways to make a no into a yes but when you understand the deep-seated, biological imperative for boys to play the way they do, you can begin to see clearly how to shift their play into ways that it could be a yes.
For instance, these boys were slashing at each other with some fern fronds, laughing and connecting in a physical way. Of course, we don't want the boys pulling up the plants but they clearly needed a physical way to engage with each other. Pool noodles are a great way to play "sword fight" and of course you'll monitor and set parameters on the play, right? The biggest take-away is that you are saying YES to who he is and how he plays! And he reads you loud and clear - and feels heard and accepted.
A Constant No:
Encourages your boy to disconnect
Encourages him to tune you out
Encourages him to feel like school isn't for him
Encourages him to feel like no one understands him (or likes him)
Ouch! That's rough.
The Two-Part REMEDY to NO:
First, you MUST understand your son and what motivates him in his play, relating to his friends, communicating with you, and how he learns.
Then ask yourself, "What do I want instead?" With your words, you give him the picture of what you DO want, not what you DON'T want. This may take some practice but once it becomes a habit, you'll find yourself navigating sticky situations with ease!
When your no-number goes down, you'll see your son's relief and joy go up!
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