Recently I attended a parenting workshop led by Patti and Colleen Drobot, from Drobot Counselling and The Neufeld Institute. Although I gained many insights from the session, I was most impacted by one thing the presenters said.
Holding the No
The group was discussing the importance of “holding the no,” meaning our calm, assertive no must be a final answer. The presenter added the following reminder:
When you can find a yes, make sure you give it enthusiastically.
This really struck me. As parents (and educators) we repeatedly get the message that when we say no, we should stick to it. This enables children to rest in the knowledge that we can take care of them. It tells them they can trust us to follow through.
But in all these discussions of no, we never get to yes.
What About Yes?
What about the times when we can find a yes for our children? How do we offer it? When your child asks hopefully if you want to play, what is the tone of your response? Do you jump up to join him as if you can’t possibly wait? Or do you reluctantly agree, sighing heavily, taking her hand but looking wistfully toward a task you’d rather be doing?
When we are communicating with our children, what we say is far less important than the tone and body language we use. No one, especially not a child, wants to feel as though we have something we’d rather do more than be with them.
A reluctant yes is no kind of yes at all.
Sometimes we absolutely need to say no. But when you can find a yes, really find it.
Make it Count
We need to be like golden retrievers for our children, greeting them at the door with pure excitement, giving them our time and love with unabashed enthusiasm and joy.
The next time your child asks you for something, especially if involves
your time and attention, and you can find a yes, make it your goal to double the enthusiasm they used when asking you. Better yet, ask them first!
Say yes with everything you’ve got. It’s the only kind of yes that counts.
I’d love to hear your stories of saying yes enthusiastically. Please share them in the comments below