As parents, we want to raise kids whose happiness and contentment do not depend on having expensive clothes, toys, or other material things. We don't want them to grow up thinking they can get everything they ask. In short, parents are not in the business of raising spoiled kids. But saying no to the kids especially when those tears start to fall is tough. Just when you feel like the disciplinarian in you is starting to soften, keep these in mind when you need to say no.
1. You're teaching them to be resourceful and fosters creativity. "When we always yield to our children’s wants, we rob them of the opportunity to find solutions by adapting what they already have," writes Scott Sonenshein, author of Stretch: Unlock the Power of Less – And Achieve More Than You Ever Imagined,” for The New York Times.
He cited a study that showed children who have less had found more creative ways to use bubble wrap than same-age kids who grew up having a lot of toys. The resourcefulness led the kids to make up games, invent, or head outdoors to pass the time and entertain themselves.
2. You're preparing them to deal with disappointment and frustration. The world doesn't always work in your favor, and it is better that young kids learn how to handle disappointment, frustration, and delayed gratification while they are young. In an interview with Betsy Brown Braun, child behavior specialist and author of You’re Not the Boss of Me: Brat-Proofing your 4- to 12-Year-Old Child, she stressed that these skills are best learned through experience and proper guidance from parents.
"Learning these will not happen if the child always gets what he wants. In order to tolerate frustration you have to be frustrated, so [as a parent] you have to give the 'no' response, however we say it, in order to teach the child to tolerate disappointment," Brown Braun said. Saying no leads kids to learn how to manage expectations, navigate life’s ups and downs of life and bounce back faster.
3. You’re teaching them determination, patience, and confidence. "If we shield our kids too much, they never get practice at dealing with disappointment. But when children are allowed to work through those disappointments, they might realize, 'This won't work, but I'll try something else.' They build the sense that there are no dead ends, just solutions they haven't found yet," David Walsh, Ph.D., author of No: Why Kids — Of All Ages — Need to Hear It and Ways Parents Can Say It, told Scholastic.
We need let our children experience how to work through problems; give them the chance to feel good about themselves once they've come up with a solution. If parents keep rescuing their kids without letting them try, it doesn’t help kids gain confidence. “In this culture, we tend to think that self-esteem comes first, and then competence will follow, but actually it's the other way around,” he added.
4. You're letting kids learn how to prioritize, argue, and make decisions. When you say no to your kids, you're also teaching them to prioritize and argue their case. It can help them manage peer pressure. These skills are not necessarily taught in school, social psychologist Susan Newman, Ph.D., author of The Book of NO: 250 Ways to Say It -- and Mean It, told Parents. "Kids who understand that they can't always have their way will be more likely to be successful in school, relationships, and their careers."
5. It sets clear boundaries for your child. What's okay and not okay? Setting boundaries comes in handy when your child is in any grave physical danger. It is also for the same reason why parents should find a balance when to say no to our kids and how to say it correctly. Otherwise, it would lose its effectiveness, according to parenting expert Joanne Mallon.
"It’s effective to limit the times you say ‘no,’ so that when you do say it, it has more effect. Tell them what you want them to do instead. Otherwise, they have to work it out for themselves, which is hard when you’re two," Mallon tells The Huffington Post. You can say no without using the word itself. Don’t make it your go-to reply when you’re angry. More importantly, explain to your child calmly but firmly why you had to say no even if he doesn't accept it.
In this day and age, it's a lot harder to say no to kids. We live a busy life, and parents try to make up for lost time by giving in to their child's whims. But saying no shows them you love them. They may hate you for it now, but you know it's for their own good. It's part of the job that is parenting.