Mama can I have chips ? No it’s lunch time
Mummy can I go down and play ? No you have to finish your homework
Mummy can I sit and do see what you are doing ? No go finish your homework first
Mama I have done my homework can I watch TV ? No you watch too much TV
Mama can I have chips now ? No eat your fruit , you eat too much junk
and the list goes on for a thousand other things .
If each one of us starts counting the number of times we say no to our kids in a day we will be surely shocked.
A few days back my 3 year old son came to me and asked can i have ice cream ? I said no its lunch time .. can I go downstairs and play ? I said no have your lunch first .. at this he started howling and said you ALWAYS SAY NO.
When I heard this I got really upset and said Ayaan this is no way to talk to Mama. I always listen to you but this is lunch time. And both of us were visibly upset but somehow being a kid he soon settled down and became his normal , cheerful self . But even after an hour I was pretty upset by his outburst , and I really began to think about what he had said. Does my son actually feel that I always say no.. and to my own shock and disbelief I actually realised that i do mostly say NO.
As mothers we are concerned for our kids safety, maintaining their routines, feeding them nutritious food , keeping them away from TV so much that we have become programmed to say no. Our automatic response to 90 percent of their demands is no ( which kid ever asks for carrots as a snack or for a book if they are getting bored ). Kids being kids always do ask for the fun stuff , to play , to eat junk , to not study so our instinct has become to say no without even thinking if its really necessary.
As a kid we always hated to be told things , to maintain a structure and vowed to ourselves that when we become parents we’ll not behave like this , that we will be the cool parents we always wanted. So where did these thoughts vanish. And trust me when I recall our childhood, our parents used to say no a lot less than we do, they were more lenient and relaxed in their approach. I don’t remember my mother saying such a strong no to chips or chocolates or to playing a little more.
When I recalled my son’s request and his subsequent reaction , I really thought about it and felt that if I had let him play for 10 more minutes and then have his lunch, what difference would it really make, summer holidays are going on , there’s no rush so how does 10 minutes really matter.
If we think hard and objectively a lot of the things we say no to don’t really matter. But our children’s happiness does. So that day i decided I’ll try to say yes the most that I can. This of course doesn’t relate to safety related issues but in all other things.
So in the evening we were going to the park . Generally I keep rushing the kids saying finish your fruit and let’s go let’s go. That day Amaira said I’ll not eat banana just plum and go after 10 mins so I took a deep breath reminded myself not to start off about the importance of calcium and just said okay. And she stopped and looked at me cos clearly she had been expecting a different reaction. One less disagreement already. In the park they said 10 more mins I said okay and the smiles on their faces were worth all the minutes in the world. Could I really make my kids so happy just by giving in to such a simple request.
Its been a week and I’m trying to be YES MOM and leave the no mom pattern.If I know I need something has to be done Iam trying to find a mid way and also to communicate my point in a more positive way like I told Amaira yesterday you have to do 1 page writing before lunch time but you can do it before or after playing that you can decide. Of course this doesn’t apply to everything like their health and safety but at least say no where it is essential. And I can see that even the kids are wondering what is happening , yesterday Amaira said you say okay to everything and I couldn’t stop smiling.
I am going to try to continue on this path and see how much I can make it work. What are your thoughts ?