No Means No

Over the past few months, I’ve noticed an alarming trend in my house whenever I say “no.”  My kids accept my response initially, but then something goes wrong.  Very wrong!  They start repeating their request over and over in an effort to get me to change my mind.  They seem to think that if they ask me enough times, that I will give in and let them have what they want.

Can I have a play date?  Can I have a Coke?  Can I watch television?  Can I have a snack?  Can I play a video game?  These are some of the most frequently asked questions at my house that get a no.  Don’t get me wrong, sometimes each of these get a yes.  But only when the time is right.

No, you can’t have a play date when we’re walking out the door to go to gymnastics.  No, you can’t have a Coke after school.  No, you can’t watch television when you could be playing outside.  No, you can’t have a snack before dinner.  No, you can’t play a video game when you have homework to do.

In an effort to determine if this was a problem with all kids or just my own, I did an informal survey of some of my kid’s friends.  I asked them all the question, “What would happen to you if your parents said no to you and then you asked them again for that same thing?”

The first kid looked at me with shock and said, “Well, I wouldn’t do that because my mom and dad would spank me!”  The next one said, “My mom and dad would send me to my room for sure.”  I also got an “I’d be put in time out!” And then there were just the “I know better than to do that!” responses.

My survey was by no means scientific, but it made me stop and think about what  was going on in my house that made my kids think it was okay to ask for the same thing over and over again, even when the answer was no.

Then it hit me.  The reason they keep asking is that I don’t always stick to my guns.  I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve given in to their 10th request to have a snack just so they would stop asking me!  I’m not proud of it, but it has happened on more than one occasion.  Add that to some of my other parenting no-nos like accidental reinforcement and Mommy’s distracted disorder and you’ll quickly figure out why my blog tag line is ‘Perfectly Imperfect Parenting Solutions.’

So recently my husband and I staged one of our famous interventions.  This one we’re calling ‘No Means No.’  We sat the kids down at the dinner table and told them that whenever one of us says no that we mean it.  That if they ask us a second time that we will not change our mind.  And not only that, there will be a consequence if they ask again.  And then we started consistently implementing our intervention.

Now, if you ask to watch television after already being told no you can’t turn on the television, then you will be grounded from the television.  Ask over and over again for a Coke and you won’t get to see one for a week (at least).  You get the idea, the consequences are all related to what they’re begging for.  And you know what?  One or two consequence later and they learned that we meant business.

We’ve been at it a week, and it didn’t take long for us to see a complete turn around in their behavior.  And last time I checked the recycling, there were a lot fewer Coke cans in there than usual.  Give it a try at your house.  If it can work for me, I promise it can work for you!

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About Dr. Polly Dunn

Child clinical psychologist, wife, and mom of four blogging about her 'Perfectly Imperfect' parenting solutions.

Comments

  1. We need to sit our sons down and have one of those talks very soon!

    (Thanks for linking this up over at #findingthefunny last week!)

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