It is so important that children learn the importance of being an individual. They need to know that their thoughts and feelings matter. Kids saying no in certain situations is their way of expressing their individualism and feelings. But are we doing the right things to teach them these critical life lessons?
A quick story…
“Can I please play with that when you’re done?”
“No. It’s mine.”
That response crushed sweet little Lizzie. She desperately wanted to play with Tim’s toy car, and at five years old it really hurt to be told “no.”
“Timothy! How rude!” Tim’s mother scolded. “Give that car to Lizzie. She said please!”
“Fine!” And with that, Tim was unwillingly forced to share…again.
Life lessons actually learned
Sadly, this same situation plays out for kids everywhere. Yes, Lizzie was able to play with the toy car, but what lessons did Tim learn from this interaction? I’ll tell you;
- No is not an appropriate response, even to a yes or no question.
- If someone says please you must always give them what they want-no matter what.
- Your feelings and opinions don’t matter if they don’t make everyone else happy.
- You are not allowed to have things that mean so much to you that you don’t want to share them.
Wow! How awful are those lessons? Have you unintentionally taught your child one or more of these? If so, don’t do it again! And if you haven’t accidentally taught your child something from the list above, great! Make sure you never do!
“No” is an acceptable response
You see, when you ask someone a yes or no question you have to understand that “no” has a 50/50 chance of being the response you receive. Also, if someone says no to you it doesn’t mean that person is awful or inconsiderate. It simply means the answer is no.
We need to teach our kids that they are going to hear “no” throughout their lives. That’s just part of life. It doesn’t mean we did anything wrong. It simply means no.
We also don’t want to teach our kids that it’s wrong to say no. In fact, it is extremely important that they become comfortable with saying no to other people at a very young age. If another child wants to play with your son or daughter’s most beloved toy, let them say no. Do you share your most beloved things with others? The champagne flutes from your wedding, your family Bible, your childhood journal, etc.? No! No one would ever expect you to share these sorts of things. For our children, some toys hold this much personal value.
Not only that, but becoming comfortable with saying no to others will greatly benefit your children later in life. Let’s say a group of people are going out to do something and they invite your now teenage child. But as they’re telling her about it, her conscious creeps up and tells her it’s a bad idea. Don’t you want her to feel confident saying no in this situation? If you’ve told her that it’s ok to say no, she’s more likely to do so in this situation.
My kids say no
Because of all this, my kids sometimes say no to other kids. And yours should too! We shouldn’t force our kids to share. They are allowed to have things that they value and want to take care of.
I also don’t ever force my kids to play with others. If they honestly don’t want to play with someone then I let them say no when asked. We should never force our kids into a situation that justifiably makes them feel uncomfortable. Children are important, and their thoughts and feelings matter.
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