Saturday, November 5, 2011

Just say "No!"

Saying "no" does not a bad parent make.  As a parent your responsibility is to raise a responsible, independent adult who has common sense and skills that will help them thrive.  Dealing with disappointment is a skill that actually needs to be taught.

Face it, none of us has gotten everything we have ever wanted.  From Barbie Dolls and Bicyles to college admissions to dating to job applications to rainy vacations, disappointment is a daily occurance.  What helps us get through life is how we deal with the inevitable.

When I look at the students I have had over the years, some have taken disappointment in stride, some have had tantrums when things don't go their way, some relentlessly persevere and pursue other avenues to get what they want.  There are as many reactions to disappointment as there are children.

So, as a parent, what can you do to help your child develop skills that will allow them to handle disappointment, regroup, and pursue other options?

Children like to be prepared for situations.  When you take a child shopping, have a conversation first.  We are going to the grocery store.  You and I will buy the things on our list. I will hand you each item and you can put it in the cart. I want you to know that today we will not buy anything "extra."  If you do forget and ask me for something special, please know that today the answer will be no.
*Then if the child does ask for something you can refer to the conversation you had prior to the shopping trip.  It is nice to give your child a specific task to do such as putting the items in the cart.  Children like to help.

Before playing a game, have a converstaion.  I would be happy play checkers ( or any game) with you.  You are one of my favorite people to play with.  Let's talk about what a good winner does.  If you win, tell the other players that it was fun to play with them and they did a good job.  If you don't win, tell the winner "Congratulations."  It is good to know how to win and how to lose.
* A child needs to practice being a good loser, I advise you not to let them win every game they play with you.  You should model being a good winner and a good loser.

Before a playdate, have a conversation.  Your friend is coming over to play.  He is our guest so he will get to choose the first game you play.  If you play nicely, you get to choose the next game.  You are a terrific friend and a terrific friend lets others choose first.
*Be close by to remind your child about courtesy when being with a friend.

Before birthday parties, have a conversation.  You are going to be in someone else's home.  You will be the representative of our family.  This is an important job.  Say please and thank you.  If you don't get your way, be calm and wait till you get home and tell me all about it.  Do not ask for "seconds" wait until you are offered seconds.
*The "seconds" thing is a point of politeness and should be practiced at home.  Be sure to ask your child how things went and if they are not enthusiastic ask if there was a disappointment and talk to them about how we don't always get everything we want but you are always loved and important.

When children are very young saying no happens frequently.  You may want to offer another activity or distraction so the child realizes there are other options when things don't go your way.

I have seen many parents give in to children who have wanted something they clearly were not ready for.  Face book accounts for 9 year olds, cars for 16 year olds, i phones for 7 year olds given out of love.  But what seems like love can just be indulgence.  Learn to say no but do it with a conversation.

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