I Can Say No

I have to remind myself of this sometimes. Our oldest is six and if I go the entire morning without saying no to one of his requests I know that my patience is wearing thin.

“You’re a parenting coach. How can you coach parents if you don’t stay patient?”

Would you really want to work with someone who can’t admit their own kids annoy them sometimes? Kids can be so difficult! And I’d be doing you a disservice if I pretended that you need to just cherish every moment.

You don’t.

You can say no.

Now, if you’re not accustomed to saying no then you may get some pushback. You may get some screams and tantrums. It’s not going to feel good. I say, “let it come.”

The best way to help anyone deal with pain is to go through it with them. That’s where strong bonds are formed. You’ll be tempted to distract them from it, to calm them down by saying, “Now, I told you no and that I didn’t want to play that game. You shouldn’t be upset at me.” Maybe they shouldn’t, but they are. I’ve said, “You thought I was going to play. Your feelings are hurt, aren’t they?” Sometimes I offer a hug, which they rarely take. Within a few minutes they’ve found something new to do and they are engaged and giggling and I’m sitting quietly by myself – not because I needed to teach them a lesson, but because I didn’t want to play, and that’s a good enough reason.

Philip Mott

I've been working with families for two decades now. I write about topics pertaining to parents of children ages 4-12.

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