Why Saying "No" Might Be A No-No

I want you to think about putting yourself inside your child's brain.

We often ask you to do that, and this is another great example of doing that again.

Let's say we just opened the doors to our Kindermusik classroom, and there are some musical instruments on the floor in the middle of the room.

Your child runs in joyfully and picks up an instrument and starts playing, and then goes to another child and tries to take the instrument out of that child's hand.

You see that happening and you say, "No!"

Well, now, what's happened inside your child's brain?

First of all, the door opened and they saw instruments playing, so it's sort of a signal that says, "Ooh, I get to go in and play with instruments, and now I see my little friend Sarah over here has an instrument and I want to take the one that she has," because after all, at two years old, everything I see is mine.

When you come in and say “No”, because you see the child taking something, it confuses your child.

Because first, they are given the signal, yes they can play, and now you're saying no, you're telling them they can't play, and that's confusing.

What are you saying no to?

That's the key. If you say, "No, don't take the toy," they see a picture of take the toy.

So that's not going to do it for them.

Children see in pictures. If I say, "Don't think of a white picket fence," what do you think of?

A white picket fence.

So if you say, "No, don't take the toy," they think, "Take the toy.”

That's what they see in their head.

What you really want to do is teach your child not to take the toy from the other child.

How do we do that?

We say, "Oh, Benny, you wanted the toy that Sarah was playing with, so you went over and you took it from her. When we want a turn with the toy that our friend is playing with, we tap her on the shoulder like this," tap, tap, tap, "and we say, 'My turn?'"

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Now, you've made this a teaching moment.

Every single thing your child does, they're opening up to be taught something.

So keep that in mind when you just yell, "No!"

They have no idea why you're saying no. It is not registering in their brain.

They need to know what you mean, and what you mean is not, "No, you can't play."

What you mean is, "Oh, he needs help learning how to ask to take a turn."

That's the key.

What does your child really need to learn from what you see them doing?

He doesn't need to learn, "No, don't take."

He needs to learn, "How do I learn how to ask to have a turn with something that I see?"

It's really, really easy to say no a lot, and we all do it.

And it's okay, especially if safety is involved.

I don't want you to feel guilty, and I don't want you to feel, "Oh my gosh, there I go again." If safety is involved, you gotta do what you gotta do to make sure your child is safe. We all understand that, we all get that. So please keep that in mind and give yourself a big smile and pat on the back, because sometimes saying no might be really necessary for your child's safety.

Another example……Your husband cooks dinner, and he calls you and says, "Dinner's ready!”

You walk into the kitchen and you go to grab your plate and he yells, "No! No, no, no! No, no, no, no, no," and you're like, "What? You just told me dinner is ready, what's the matter? I'm confused."

What your husband should have said instead is, "Dinner is ready. Before we eat, can you please grab a bottle of red wine for us to share?" Now, do you see? If you are told exactly what he wants, now you understand. Same thing with your child. If you tell them exactly what you want them to learn, they will begin to understand.

So we need to do this for our children, and then you can enjoy that bottle of wine too.

Stopping, explaining, and teaching really goes a long way.

Saying no too many times to your child not only teaches your child to say no right back to you, but it actually begins to inhibit their creativity and love for exploration.

If they're in the moment to explore and discover and play and create, and we say, "No," you're stopping them from doing that.

If we say no a lot of times, they're going to begin to hesitate to explore and discover and create. So we don't want to inhibit that natural urge for them to learn, explore, discover, and create.

Keep in mind when your child really needs help learning something, explain it to them rather than yelling no.

Hopefully this will help you understand what goes on inside your child's brain, and it will help your child learn some wonderful new lessons because you are there right alongside them helping them to understand how to learn this new skill that they need help learning.

Let’s say YES to teaching moments!