parenting & discipline

Saying yes to say no to your kids: getting discipline right

Saying yes to say no? Don’t we make it harder for ourselves if we give in? Of course…..sometimes.

Disciplining our children is one of the hardest aspects of parenting. Knowing when to dig the heels in and be ‘tough’ and when to cut the slack and let things slide, can be a like walking a precarious tightrope of confusion and inconsistency, resulting in frustration both for us and for our children.

We all want kids that are ‘well behaved’. That usually means being compliant, doing what they are told and accepting our boundaries. But as we are all acutely aware,  kids like to push hard against some of those boundaries. How far we push back can sometimes determine the levels of conflict that arises. Sometimes our short term gain of ‘giving in’ becomes long term pain of always having to give in lest we want to be confronted with World War 3 for ever more. But sometimes stress, tiredness or the need to be somewhere quickly prevent us from doing that which we think we ‘should’ be doing’ versus that which we are physically and emotionally capable of at that particular moment in time.

So how can we get it right. Or mostly right?

We say yes in order to say no.

We look at the things which don’t matter so much. The decisions they can make for themselves that have no lasting impact. No long term ramifications that do not affect themselves or others in any negative way. They may not be our ideal behaviours or decisions, but they are not crucial to their wellbeing.

We give them those choices in order to take back the control when we need it.

But if we always give in, aren’t we letting them know they should always have a say?

No. Not for the things that matter. For example:

Say yes to the ugly t-shirt or mix matched outfit so you can put your foot down when they need to get out of the football shorts for a wedding.

Say yes to the movie with friends in order to say no to the sleepover at a friends house with no parents at home.

Let them stay up late on Saturday night to watch a movie, so you can ensure they go to bed early on a school night.

It isn’t about saying yes all the time. Sometimes we just need to say no.

It’s about giving them choices, letting them know you respect they need some freedoms, some independence and some fun with their mates, but there are boundaries that you as parents have a right to instil. This shows a lot more mutual respect, but still maintains that you have the ultimate say.

It also lets our kids know that they can question authority sometimes. They can always ask the question. Sometimes we can concede they may have a point and let them test those boundaries, whilst other times we let them know there are some rules that are there for very good reason.

Its about picking your battles. There will always be some non negotiable rules that you have in your household. Whatever they may be, your kids need to be clear on those. Giving them freedom in other areas shows that you are not merely ruling with an iron fist, but rather giving them the appropriate level of decision making based on their age and development.

Ultimately it is about building a level of respect. And sometimes, saying yes and giving them a ‘say’ in their decision making, can help build that respect both for themselves and for those around them.




Share this post

Like this article? Sign up to our email newsletter and never miss a post.

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. My girls are only 3 and 6 and I am trying to figure this one out still. I certainly let unimportant things slide like wearing miss matched outfits but cannot get them to understand that I said yes to A, B and C so you need to understand I now have to say no to D and that is ok. It’s a hard one. #TeamIBOT

    1. Martine Oglethorpe

      Yes Malinda it is certainly a hard one….but I have to say, with age they do get to understand that there are reasons why we say no and this comes when they begin to notice cause/effect more and consequences for actions. Of course it is not always accepted so readily, but certainly as they get older it is important for kids to feel like they are being heard. If we give them a quick response as to why we said yes to something else but no to this…eventually they get to understand that even if they don’t like the response, we have listened to their request but ultimately made the decision we feel is best. Not ever going to be perfect, but I find it is much better than a blanket no all the time that often leads to kids going behind parents back as they feel they would already know the answer.

  2. EssentiallyJess

    I’ve always found too that giving the reason why you’re saying no is so important. Having that conversation so they can understand why it’s no today but it was yes last week, and letting them understand your reasoning.

    1. Martine Oglethorpe

      Absolutely. Whilst they often think we do things just to annoy them…hopefully for the important stuff they will see that we have our reasons.

  3. Such wise words Martine!

    I’m letting a lot more slide these days in the hope that when something is non-negotiable, there’s less push back. Well, that’s the plan anyway! x

    1. Martine Oglethorpe

      Good plan Vanessa. Sometimes we gotta let things slide 🙂

  4. Belinda from Gallerie B

    Thanks for sharing these gems Martine. Always tough to find the balance, yet reassuring to know we are all going through it! x

  5. Belinda from Gallerie B

    Thanks for sharing these gems of wisdom Martine! One of the hardest thing I find about parenting but reassuring to hear your thoughts. x

    1. Martine Oglethorpe

      Thanks Belinda, yes it is certainly one of the most challenging elements of parenting and one that is often needs changing and adapting.

  6. Picking your battles is so true. Before i went on holidays, I picked every fight I could possibly pick and not because I wanted to it was because I was exhausted and didn’t know how else to handle it. Now that I am refreshed, I am calmer and the fights seem to have stopped – battles have been picked and to be honest, there are not that many.

    1. Martine Oglethorpe

      Exhaustion and stress can certainly play a huge role in how we handle discipline. Glad you got some of the recharging you needed. 🙂

Comments are closed.