Lazy Parenting Hack - NO NOs
I had very few parenting role models as I stepped into motherhood. As an immigrant family there were just my parents, my 2 brothers and my aunt and 1 cousin who lived in Vancouver. Holiday gatherings were small. I was the youngest. As we got older people moved away. I had no nieces or nephews that lived close by and no cousins or extended family. No one to watch and learn from.
However, my experience teaching high school students was PRICELESS in preparing me for motherhood. Especially my time teaching modified math to the least motivated kids in high school my 1st few years. Working with gr. 8’s & 9’s was equally as enlightening as I watched hormones begin to change their brains in ENORMOUS ways at this time of their life. I saw a chair thrown, a student walk out, a parent threaten to beat his kid and one student cut another student’s hair (without permission). To say behavior was all over the map is an understatement. I had to quickly decide what kind of teacher I was going to be.
Most of my teacher education instructors emphasized the importance of using “rules” and having them posted clearly in the class. They spoke of consequences and keeping a watchful eye out for any student breaking these rules. My first year was EXHAUSTING. And not because the workload was immense and the hours never-ending (which they were), but because of the constant energy I was using to “catch” everyone who was breaking a rule. It made my head & heart hurt and stress level skyrocket. Being a rule tyrant was exhausting! All it created was a negative space in the classroom. I knew this was not a teaching style that fit my personality or would keep me in the profession for very long!
I also learnt quickly that a lot of students just do what they are told not to do! Did you know that children hear only the last thing you say (if you are lucky LOL) so saying “Don’t run in the halls” results in them hearing “run in the halls”. Saying “don’t hit your sister” is heard as “hit your sister”🙃
Have you noticed how really great early childhood educators can keep a classroom of 20
3-5year olds safe, on task and happy using phrases such as “use your walking feet”, “use your indoor voice”, and “keep your hands to yourself”? This isn’t an accident. Studies have shown that clearly explaining the behavior you WANT and reinforcing it with positive accolades works WAY BETTER than yelling and pointing out all the things they are doing wrong.
SOOOOOO - fast forward to my children and my family. I have learnt the importance of reserving my NOs for when they really matter. The IMPORTANT stuff, like when they are about to run out into the street or are about to touch something HOT or do something that is dangerous and harmful to themselves or someone else. I urge you to reserve them for when you REALLY MEAN IT and know you won’t take it back. Take back even 1 no and you will soon learn how amazingly relentless your children can be! They WILL wear you down.
Some hard NOs around here for our family now are no screens in the bedrooms/upstairs, no foul language or mean words to anyone in the family, no quitting or not getting something done that you said you would do, and no lying.
So does this mean saying yes to them all the time for everything else? Absolutely not. My kids are not eating ice cream all day long, on their screens all day long, or beating each other or the house up all day long. I have been very strict with them from a young age. My NOs were more frequent as toddlers and preschoolers (because let’s face it, at that age everything they do threatens their safety or someone else’s). The hard work you put in when they are young pays off as they get older 😉
Some of my most used tactics are diversions (“let’s go for a walk/play a game/read a book instead”), delay (“sure-after you take the laundry up) and clearly laid out expectations (“you can play on the iPad for 30mins”). It may seem like semantics to you but it really does make a difference. NOTE-if they catch me off guard and I don’t know what I want the answer to be, I buy myself time by saying “give me 10mins to think about it and then you can ask me again”. I also work really hard at catching my kids “being good”. I try to praise their effort and notice when they do something nice/kind for me, their father or their siblings.
Saying yes more often than no is one of the parenting skills I have embraced and developed that I am most proud of. When I say no, my children know I mean it. And yes, they STILL try once in awhile by asking again (they are kids & teens after all), but when I clearly say “the answer is no and don’t ask again” they stop.
Why is this a “lazy parenting hack”? Because I believe by focusing on the good stuff and seeing the positives in your family you can free up time and energy to enjoy each other more. By not fighting over every no, you maintain sanity. I would love to hear what your hard NOs are and if you have tried saying yes more often.