Sometimes it is hard to say ‘no’ to our children. When these internal struggles happen (we want our kids to be happy and we know they won’t like ‘no’) then it is helpful to know why we are saying no.
We say no because our kids don’t have the ability to say no to themselves! They are not yet self-governing. They need us to help them do well.
The general idea is that as our children learn to make wise decisions we begin to say ‘no’ less.
Our children though see it differently – they think they can self-govern now. This is why they don’t like us saying no. But they don’t see the bigger picture – they don’t understand the cause and effect of their choices – they don’t see the consequences. But we do and our children need to benefit from our experience and insight.
Sometimes we just need to say no – but most times we can actually teach into the situation by explaining why we are saying no. When we consistently teach them our thinking, they begin to see bigger than their immediate desires – they begin to understand what is needed, learning as they go what it takes to be self-governed.
Why do we say no? We can fall into the habit of saying ‘no’ because what they want to do is inconvenient to our comfort. To be honest, this is as selfish as our kids often get!! Our job is to teach and train our children and we can use every situation that comes our way. We need to have a moral reason for saying ‘no’ and we need to pass on that moral reason to our kids:
- What does God have to say with this choice?
- How is this choice going to affect others?
- What are the consequences of this choice (for the child themselves)?
- Does this choice go against what our family believes?
As our kids get older we can make a shift from saying ‘no’ to guiding them through making more choices themselves, bigger choices themselves. We can remind them of the above questions, help them come to a decision. But it will have to be their decision. There will be times that they go through that thinking process, and they will still make a decision different than you would . There comes a time you will have to step back and let them make their own choice – let them make a bad choice even – let them fail – and then walk beside them in the consequences of their choices. This itself is a learning lesson towards self-governing. This is the love of a parent! Letting them stretch their wings, letting them fall, and enabling them to try again. It is also the love of a parent to encourage and praise when they do well and soar.
Eventually, as they hear these questions and the answers are explained, as they are guided through the thinking process, they will be able to make wise decisions – decisions that will be good for them, good for other people and property around them.
Saying I’ve already told you once – is not helpful: Training is a long term project – it will not be over and done with just because we told our children something once, or even twice.
Stop saying Stop: If we could only stop saying "stop" to our kids and start telling them what to do instead, we'll be much more effective in our parenting.
Think Before Giving a Consequence: The purpose of a consequence is to teach our child why and how to do the right thing so we must think before we act.
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