Wow! As a parent this can be a tricky subject. Should we really allow our children to tell us no? I know some of you out there will give a definitive; “no we should not”. However maybe we should take a closer look at this topic.
Saying “no” is an inherent response that most if not all children will give at some point. The question is; is it always, sometimes, or never appropriate to say no?
I will argue that sometimes it is perfectly appropriate for children to say no and it is the responsibility of the parents to allow them the ability to say no.
Years ago in a seminar regarding child abuse I was introduced to a way of thinking that really took hold in my mind. The speaker was talking about the importance of allowing children to have a voice, to know their bodies, and to teach them to say no and mean it.
The speaker gave a for instance and it went like this. In a very common setting of a family gathering we often make our children give hugs to family members; even if they don’t want to. The speaker said that we should allow the children the ability to say no to giving out hugs to relatives. To force them to give affection to people they are not comfortable with takes their voice away and reinforces that they “have” to let adults hug and touch them whether they like it or not.
Now let’s remember that this is just one example of when it is ok for children to say no. I think there are many other areas in life where it is perfectly fine for children to say no. If we don’t allow and teach our children that it is ok to say no how will they learn?