When dealing with my young kids, I feel like the word “no” emanates from my lips more often than any other. “No, you cannot have a cookie before dinner.” “No, you cannot play outside naked.” “No, you cannot jump off the furniture like a professional wrestler.”

There’s a lot of boundary setting occurring in our household, as there should be at their age, and that means a steady torrent of “no's.” The trick is to make sure that the “no’s” are necessary and not merely a knee-jerk reaction to whatever is happening or whatever request is being made.

But lately, all that negativity has made me feel like a total curmudgeon. I don’t want my kids to hear nothing but “no.” I want them to understand that there are lots of times for an empowering “yes.” Hearing “yes” will also help them to learn which behavior is appropriate versus behavior that is clearly off-limits.

Here's how you can distinguish between “yes” behavior and “no” behavior.

1. It Allows You to Take a Beat

If the behavior is obviously dangerous and life-threatening, then a convincing “no” is immediately warranted. But if the request might be somewhat benign, take a pause before an immediate veto. Maybe you don’t want to say “yes” because it will add more to your workload. Or maybe it’s something that you said “no” to last week. However, maybe this new mindset will enable you to find a way to give clearance.

2. You Can Offer Other Options

Maybe your child’s request is unacceptable — like, they want to play with your kitchen utensils, let’s say. Instead of saying “no” try saying “instead of that...” and give them another option.

3. "Yes" Avoids Confrontation

All parents know what comes after our kids hear “no”: whining, crying, screaming, potential tanrums, begging, arguing, door slamming, or any combination thereof. “Yes” will avoid that. That’s not to say that you should acquiesce to avoid a fight. That will send a dangerous message. But there is an upside to saying “yes” every once in a while, especially if the requests your children are making are easy and not harmful to anyone.

4. "Yes" Teaches Confidence

Getting rejected over and over again may make our kids develop a complex. By granting them a few innocuous victories, they may gain valuable confidence and it will help them feel good about themselves.

5. It Will Make Hearing "No" Easier

Follow me on this logic: If your kids get a few “yeses” under their belts, it will make them more likely to accept “no’s” in the future. They may think you're being more reasonable when they get shot down in the days to come.

6. It's a Great Life Lesson

Life is going to tell your kids “no” a lot. They’ll get turned down for dates. They won’t get picked for certain teams. They won’t get accepted to a college. They won’t get a coveted job. Maybe hearing “yes” every so often will help them handle rejection better in the future.

How often do you say yes to your kids?

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