Being a yes parent does mean letting go of some control.
All children are different, meaning not all types of parents or discipline will work as well as something else. Soon after our son turned three we realised that “positive parenting” had a much better outcome.
Praising him when he behaved rather than scolding him when he didn’t really worked (and still does) quite well. I say quite because you know kids!
But, being a yes parent does mean letting go of some control. For somebody with anxiety, this is not the easiest to adapt to. But you do.
As parents, even with the best intentions, we use the word “no” countless times each day. For a child, this can be disempowering and just plain annoying.
Obviously, there are many times when “no” is a completely appropriate response, especially where there are immediate health and safety concerns. But we sometimes get stuck in the “no” rather than looking for more ways to say, “Yes, and...”
By using “yes, and...,” we can:
- Respect the budding autonomy of the child
- Accept the other person as an equal human being
- Reduce triggering defiance or anxiety
- Create moments of collaboration, creativity, and silliness with our children
- Practice a basic principle of leadership: not one of us is as smart as all of us. As soon as children see that a parent relinquishes being the absolute authority or only one who knows what is right, magic happens.
Here are some examples of how you can use “yes” and hopefully get a better outcome than using the old ‘no’ we get into the habit of using.
1. Give a reason
Child: Going to bed at 8 is the worst! Alex doesn’t have to go to bed until 9!
Parent: Yes, and poor Sarah goes to bed at 3pm. Now, that is really the worst! It seems like your body likes going to sleep at 8 pm. You’ll wake up rested for school and soccer tomorrow.
Providing reasons often helps children understand why the rules are in place.
2. Present a solution
Child: Can I go to the party at Mason’s house?
Parent: Yes, and maybe you guys will play laser tag like last time. I will be happy to drive you there as soon as your homework is finished.
Your child knows they haven’t done their homework. By presenting them with a parameter to get what they want, you are giving them an opportunity to either accept it or present a solution of their own.
3. Ask for time and give a deadline
Child: Can I get a phone?
Parent: Yes, I can see why having a phone would be helpful. And I need some time to think about it. Can we talk more about it tomorrow night?
There is nothing wrong with buying a little time to think through a situation. Just be sure to give yourself a deadline to revisit the topic so you can truly think it through without being bombarded repeatedly by the request.
4. Put the responsibility back on them
Child: Can I get a new video game?
Parent: Yes, I saw that Fornite is out and I know you’d love to play it. And I would love to help you make a plan to earn the money for it.
Empowering your kids to be critical thinkers and take the reigns of responsibility will serve them well in the long run.
Every family is different and often dynamics are different but by trying a more positive approach with children it has proven more successful in research than saying an outright “NO”.
Laura Doyle, Mum of 4. Kyle 9, Noa Belle 4, Briar 2 and Milla 12 months. Breastfeeder, co-sleeper, coffee drinker. Staying positive and inspired by the chaos of it all. Follow her on Instagram.