As a parent, you want to give your children everything!
But when is everything too much?
I would argue that you’re giving too much — either leeway or physical objects — to your small being if he has an inability to hear “no.”
A common pitfall is when parents give their child everything he wants the moment he asks for it. This puts your kid on an express train to becoming a spoiled brat, akin to Veruca Salt of Willy Wonka fame. Remember her screeching around the room, demanding things from her father and ordering him around? Do not let this become your reality. This is not a pleasant scenario to consider, but these unfortunate transformations happen every day.
Accepting “no” is a critical skill for all children. You must teach them this so that they can be productive adults. Start saying “no” more often. The only way to learn to accept “no” is to experience it.
Proactively decide to satisfy your small being’s needs, many of his wants, and some of his desires. This pattern creates a child who is balanced and embraces the world with all of its ups and downs.
Your small being accepting “no” is an art form, and it will take you some practice to be good at it, especially if your child is used to hearing “yes.” You have to stand through negotiations, ranting and raving, and possibly hitting. He may compare you to his friend’s parents. Stand firm. When you decide to say “no,” stick with it.
When you stand firm, you are teaching that yelling, screaming, or hitting will not change your “no” to a “yes,” and are not acceptable forms of protest. Your child must accept your decision.
True happiness comes from working hard, accomplishing goals, and celebrating each step it took to cross the finish line. It comes from anticipating future adventures. Having all you want handed to you leads to entitlement and dissatisfaction.
As you integrate “no” into your communication, consider the following:
• Have confidence when you say “no.”
• Say “no” when you have time in case problem behavior arises while refusing a small being’s request.
• Integrate “no” into scenarios where the request is possible, like ice cream for dessert, but you know it is not best.
• Practice “no” when you have a preference to uphold. For example, your small being wants to paint at the kitchen table but you would rather she color with markers.
• When you say “no,” you have to mean it! Do not change your mind.
• Pick your battles.
It is hard to see your small one disappointed or angry, but ultimately, it will be worth it. Refusing to let your child paint now is easy, but in five years, it will be much more difficult when his fighting with his teachers about doing schoolwork.
Let’s stop the aspiring Verucas in their tracks. You can do this!
Dr. Marcie is a behavior specialist based in Brooklyn. She has worked with thousands of families for over 20 years. Her book, “Love Your Classroom Again,” is a bestseller.