yes after no


If you’re a parent, I’m guessing you'll recognize this scenario:

Your child asks you for something:  ”mama, can I…?”

You’re distracted.  Or tired.  Or hungry.  Or frustrated. 

Whatever the reason, without thinking, you answer “no”, or ”not now”, or “after you….”

The request might be a small thing:  reading a book, looking at something she found outside, a(nother) snack.  Still, it’s not what you planned, you’re not feeling spontaneous, and so “no” is what comes out. 

Maybe your child moves right on to the next activity, request, or game.  But sometimes… she hits meltdown. 

Thirty seconds later, you ask yourself, why did I say no?  I could just as easily have agreed... 

But you didn’t.  You said no, and now... you have to hold to it.  You have to show your child that you will stand by your word, that their antics won’t influence you or ’get them what they want.’ 



Take a deep breath.   

Look closely at your child.

Reflect:  is this a critical ’no’?  Is there an important limit or value connected with the answer you gave?

Maybe there is.  Maybe she needs to experience this disappointment.  Maybe this will give you the chance to explain the importance of the reason for the no.

Or maybe this is one of those times that you can teach your child another lesson… that everyone makes mistakes.  That sometimes, a choice can be changed. 

If this is your intuition, follow it.  Approach your child gently.  Let her know you have thought about the situation and realized that you’d like to make a different decision.  Apologize. Tell her that you understand how upset she is.  Hold her. 

If you model empathy and flexibility, what might s/he learn?