I am often asked about setting limits with children and what to do when they cry, scream or tantrum as a result of saying no. Here is a video I made about it.
For the free training “5 Peaceful Parenting Secrets” mentioned in the video go to http://peacefulparentingsecrets.com/.
Today, I want to talk about the fact that it’s actually okay for your kids to have feelings when you say no. We spend a lot of time worrying about saying no to our kids; about being the bad guys, about all the feelings that come up when we say no, and we often avoid saying no when really, we need to say no.
So, I just want to explain a little bit about that — what’s going on and what we can do about it.
The first thing to think about is ourselves. Now, if there’s something that you really, really, really, want — and it’s not something that you can just do autonomously, you need someone else’s approval or someone else to be involved in order for it to happen — if that person says no, do you have feelings about that? Do you feel disappointed, maybe angry and frustrated, or many other feelings that come up for you? I would say that for most of us, the answer would be yes. There are some feelings, at least disappointed feelings especially for something that we were really hoping to do, or really looking forward to, or that we thought was really important.
Our children are little humans and have all the feelings of human beings, and so it’s quite understandable that if we say no to something that they’re very excited and passionate about, that they’re going to have feelings, and it’s not for us to try and avoid saying no (or work our way around not saying no) because of those feelings. If we know that the right answer in the situation is ‘no’, that it’s not going to be possible or it’s a really bad idea — then we need to stick to setting the limit that it’s a ‘no’. But what our children need from us in that moment, is to do so in a really respectful manner and be understanding of the fact that there will be feelings that come up from them; and instead of being critical of them for the feelings — instead of being frustrated because we were hoping to just say ‘no’ and then that would be the end of it — we need to actually patiently and calmly listen to our children as they express their feelings about us saying ‘no’. If we can do that at the end of listening to them, they will be able to accept ‘no’, they’ll be able to accept that it’s not going to happen. They’ll be able to move on because we’ve been able to respect the fact that they have feelings and let them have those feelings.
What we tend to do is perhaps punish them because they didn’t accept ‘no’ or ignore them because we find it too painful to be present with them, therefore giving them the message like we don’t care — and I’m sure that’s not the case for any parent here. There may be other things that we do; we might bribe them with something else, and of course that’s going to lead down a path where they expect to always be compensated when they can’t get what they want with something else. There are a lot of problems with all of those other ways of dealing with no.
No is no. It’s no for us, so it’s no for them too in those moments when we know that that’s the right answer. Stay with the answer in a very peaceful, calm place and listen to their hard feeling — their distress about not getting what they wanted — and don’t take it that they’re manipulating you, they’re not. They’re just expressing the bit of distress that they have over not being able to go ahead with that they had really hoped. It makes sense, doesn’t it?
We’ve got really caught up in this idea that they’re manipulating us to try and change our mind. Can I say something about that? What’s going on in our own head: the struggle that we are having about saying no and their emotional reaction to that has nothing to do with them, and everything to do with us and our thoughts, and what we’re thinking of that situation at the time. So if we can think differently about the situation, then maybe we can actually handle the situation differently; and if we’re struggling with that, then we need help with why we find that difficult too and work on that, because it’s our responsibility to look after our feelings, and not let them be a reason why we’re not parenting our children to the best way possible.
I hope that’s been really valuable — and NO IS NO. There’ll be feelings about it and that’s quite okay, just stay there and respectfully be with your child, show them that you know that it’s hard that it’s a no and that you’re going to be for them through those difficult times and then everyone moves on.
If you would like to learn more about this way of parenting, especially about setting limits because what’s required in this situation is the respectful way of setting a limit (and that’s one of the things that we teach in the 6-Step Peaceful Parenting System), I have a free training you might be interested in called, the 5 Peaceful Parenting Secrets that stop the cries, tantrums, and screams so that you can have the peaceful home you long for. I really recommend you take advantage of that free training and if at the end of it you want to go deeper, you’ll have the opportunity to join the 6-Step Peaceful Parenting System and learn more with me when we go into detail about setting a limit. If this is an area you struggle in, please click on the link that’s provided with this video, and go and start your journey first and foremost with the free training.
I look forward to working with you in the future. And don’t forget, it’s okay to say no and it’s okay to have feelings around NO.
If you want to learn more about Peaceful Parenting, join our Facebook Group