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Friday, December 2, 2016

Let Your Nay be Nay by Trisha Roberts

I firmly believe in setting well-defined parameters for children. I am going to make a statement that could easily be misconstrued, but I will explain. “Children function best in a box", meaning that boundaries need to be set so that children know what is acceptable and what is not.  There is great freedom when acting and functioning within the box but there should be consistent consequences when those borders are breached.  It should be very easy for children to see whether they are “in the box” or are stepping “out of the box”! If the boundaries are blurred and not clearly defined, children and parents will be frustrated!  There are lots of things to which we can say "yes".  You won't need to say "no" so frequently if children know the limits! Let your children know what is acceptable and let them know what the consequences will be if they cross the line.

Parents, grandparents,
and care providers need to be in agreement about what behaviors will be tolerated and what actions will not, as well as the consequences for misbehaving.  Children often test the limits—it is a natural part of growing and learning.  Whatever discipline method you choose to use needs to be consistently executed.  If mom disciplines one way, babysitter another, father another, or grandparents not at all, then the child becomes extremely confused and quickly learns to manipulate the situation to get what they want.  They have difficulty developing respect for authority or the need to follow the rules. More and more in our society today we are seeing a disregard for authority and a flaunting of the social norms that help society function smoothly. Some parents and grandparents don't want to say, "No", or feel that "no" is a negative, unloving word. But I think that "No" is a very important word to learn and shows that we love our children and want what is best for them!

Saying no means you love your child
"No" is not a bad word.  "No" means you love your child and want what is best for them!

Let’s use an analogy of a dog (but not at all implying that our children are dogs!) If you want your dog to stay off furniture, you need to consistently keep him off the furniture and discipline him when he attempts to climb onto the furniture.  If today it’s OK to be on the couch, and then tomorrow it is not, your dog will be very confused.  If mom says no to the couch and dad lets the dog on the couch, you wind up with chaos. Think about what your house would look like if your dog did not have a good understanding of what "no" means!! This, unfortunately, is similar to what I see in parenting today.

Let your Nay be Nay

In my Pediatric Physical Therapy practice I see this occur over and over, frequently starting in infancy. Too often to count, I have seen parents give children mixed signals about what is acceptable behavior and what is not.  A common scenario:  Mom tells baby, “No, you can’t play with my cell phone” (keys/purse/whatever). Then, when Mom wants to show the therapist (or grandma/dad/whoever) something the baby can do, they dangle the cell phone in front of the child and say, “Do you want the cell phone?  Crawl over here/say “X”/do this/ etc. to get it.”  This is extremely confusing to a child and muddles the boundaries of what is acceptable--the baby doesn’t know if the cell phone is OK or not.  Or mom says that the baby can’t play with the cell phone and then grandma offers the baby her cell phone.

Cell phone for baby

If you have told your child that a something is a “no-no”, then it needs to be a “no-no” all the time. Let your Nay be NAY!  Even when you are tired and frustrated you need to follow through with what you have decreed. You send a mixed-message to your child if you are not consistent.  Parenting is not for the faint of heart!  You can’t choose to be a parent one day and then not the next. In homes that are split by divorce or parental separation, there should be a concerted effort to establish rules and discipline that are consistently followed and reinforced for the overall health and well-being of the child you both created and love.

Divorced parents need to agree on discipline

Your child depends on you to teach them about the world they live in.  They should learn early on that there are consequences to every action.  Imagine for a moment what our morning commute would be like if drivers did not consistently obey stop signs…or only took traffic lights as suggestions! There may be drivers who drive like this, but there are laws and penalties for those breaking those laws.

Driving when no one obeys the rules

Bottom Line?  Be Consistent.  Everyone be Consistent! Clearly define what the rules are.  Let your children know what the consequences are for breaking those rules. Follow through with the discipline of your child when they choose to disobey.  You will be happier and your child will be happier and better prepared for life.

Nay needs to be nay, and leads to happy families

Blog Administrator:  Trisha Roberts

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