21 June 2017

Just. Say. No

The word “no” makes up around 75% of my daily conversation with the kids. Surprise surprise, the frequency with which I use it, does not immediately equal well behaved, respectful children. Otherwise, one “no” from me would result in a complete cessation of requests for whatever is being asked for at the time.  As if.

Whether they want to do some impromptu baking (forget it); sweets (I’ve eaten them); a cat (I can barely look after them) or a trip to ANOTHER softplay – the demands can be relentless. 

At the shops, our typical exchange is straightforward enough – I am nothing if not direct.

“Mum, can I please have….”



“No, we haven’t got the time/money/space/etc”


“Sorry, but still no.  Why don’t we……” (distraction)

“But mum….”

“Do you need your hearing checked?”

Things usually go quiet at that point, unless we’ve gone down a road of negotiation.  Sometimes I feel my eldest is in training for the UN.

Don’t get me wrong.  This makes me sound like a complete hard faced bitch (don’t ask my OH).  In fact, I like to think that the amount of time I say no, means that when I do say yes, my kids get double the joy.  Firstly, there’s the shock factor, then the realisation sinks in.

There are a number of factors that influence whether they get a yes.  We operate a (very relaxed) reward system in our house.  They get awarded (an imaginary) star if they have worked hard on something (whatever the result), been kind (spontaneously), or if they have generally been well behaved and polite.  Stars are worth a monetary value of £1 each (they don’t get pocket money). My four year old who is Lego obsessed knows how many stars each pack of Lego in the supermarket is worth… He is always happy to pop down to Sainsburys (made even harder with the recent Lego card pressure… but that’s another story…)

And on the flip side, if they are being “challenging”, they can lose their stars, which can be quite powerful, especially if they’ve got a particular treat in mind.
Because it’s stored in my head, I often forget what number they are on (they always remember), but the stars do come into play when something out of the ordinary is asked for.

I know this isn’t for everyone – and don’t believe for one minute that I always stick to these rules.  BUT, it really helps to work out what is a fad, a real desire or just a “try my luck and see what mood she’s in” attempt.  And I think it helps them to work out what they do and don’t want.  It always makes them think harder when they have to budget with THEIR OWN allowance, rather than my purse.

I’m hopeful that in the long run, they will learn (EVENTUALLY) to think before they ask (short term), and in the future, that they will grow to be effective, independent, decision makers. 

Or perhaps I’m just dreaming.

Just don’t tell them I’m wavering over the cat.  

Written by Danielle @experimum 


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