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Mom to Mom Challenge: Don’t Say No

My challenge for the other moms is simple: for an entire week, you may not respond to your children’s requests with the word “no.” The idea is something I came up with a couple of years ago when I felt I was being so negative with my daughter and that I needed to just be more thoughtful with how I talked to her. I felt like Debbie Downer always saying “no.”  At first I thought I needed to be more accommodating, and say “yes” more often. And while that can be a part of it, it’s also about choosing words better and giving explanations. If you stop yourself from immediately saying “no” to a request, one of two things is likely to happen.  You may instead think to yourself “why not?” and indulge your child’s simple and harmless requests more often. Alternatively, you are at least likely to think harder about why you are saying “no” and explain it to your child and help give them a basis for understanding.

If you need some encouragement, here are some example scenarios:

The old way scenario:

Child asks “Can we go to Friendly’s tonight?”

Mom answers: “No, we aren’t going to Friendly’s tonight.”

Child whines “Why not? That’s not fair.”

Mom answers “Because I said so. Sorry, but life’s not fair. And if you continue to whine, we won’t be able to play any fun games at home either.”

Child melts down, mom’s blood pressure rises, tension leads to marital discord once home.

The Don’t Say “No” Way

Scenario one:

Child asks “Can we go to Friendly’s tonight?”

Mom doesn’t really want to go to Friendly’s, but can’t think of a good reason why not, and says, “Sure. Let’s make tonight a special treat and go to Friendly’s.”  Child is surprised and thrilled.  Mom takes joy in making child happy. Both enjoy an ice cream and a break from doing the dishes that night. Mom negotiates with Dad for an extra ½ hour at the gym that week for having given him a free night by taking their child to Friendly’s.

Scenario two:

Child asks “Can we go to Friendly’s tonight?”

Mom says “We can’t go to Friendly’s tonight because Daddy already started to make dinner for us at home (HA!), but we can make a plan to go another night this week.”

Child does a fake whine and says “How about if we go Wednesday night?” Parent realizes this is a fabulous idea because kids meals are $1.99 at Friendly’s on Wednesdays.

Scenario Three:

Child asks “Can we go to Friendly’s tonight?”

Mom, reflecting on the trouble she had buttoning her pants that morning, says, “Friendly’s isn’t the healthiest choice, but we can go to Not Your Average Joe’s if you’d like.”

Child says, “Why isn’t Friendly’s a healthy choice?”

Mom gives child a long explanation about healthy foods choices and unhealthy food choices, the food pyramid, etc. Mom loses 5 pounds that month when her 4-year-old subsequently becomes the food police, admonishing her that she is not making a “healthy choice” every time she reaches for the snack drawer.

See how it can work out?  In all honesty, it really can. And if you think this is just fantasy, I will instead write a book called “No, we can’t go the f*** to Friendly’s.”  Overnight it will become the #1 best selling book on Amazon, I’ll sell the movie rights, and make the rounds on all the morning shows.

Check back later this week to see how the moms do at “not saying no.”


One comment

  1. Tammy July 13, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    LOVE this idea! And I commit to doing it. I have been feeling like all I ever say is no, mostly because I am tired, or don’t want to do whatever. It doesn’t make for a very fun summer, so this is a big part of my mid-summer resolution to have more fun!

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