Encouraging Your Child To Say No.
I’m so very proud of my son today.
He had an outing planned with a local Scouts group, it was to be the first time he would go
on a trip with them and he was very excited but also anxious.
What would the other kids talk about?
Would he have fun?
Would they hold his hand on the roads on the way there?
Would he be bored?
Last night he had a bad attack of nerves but soldiered through, and woke up this morning
very indecisive as to whether he wanted to go or not.
We had breakfast and got dressed, the whole time changing his mind back and forth.
I said whatever he chose was fine and that I was proud of him for trying something new.
It became time to put his coat and hat on, and then he became distressed and announced
firmly that no, he was not going.
And I am proud of him!
We spoke about why it’s important to have been able to say he is not comfortable going,
how it would have been worse to go and internalise the ensuing meltdown that occurred.
For a child to have that option, to choose whether to do something or not means so much.
It promotes independence and freedom of thought, preference and strength of character.
It’s not about upsetting others, it’s about being strong enough to care for themselves.
Was I disappointed he didn’t go?
Would it matter if I was?
It’s not about me, it’s about how he feels, and to many parents lose sight of that.
Think also of this, if a child learns to say yes always, to do whatever they are told as they
know this earns praise, they are a ‘good’ child for obeying what would happen if asked by an
adult to do something inappropriate?
Would they have the courage to say no? And thus be seen as ‘bad’?
My son asked me just now after I read out what I had written am I still proud of him?
I replied of course, it takes a strong person to admit that something is not right for them, to
not go with the flow because it’s ‘easier’ not to say anything.
Proud doesn’t even cover it.
To many times I’ve read despairing posts on Facebook:
1. Why won’t my child go to school?
2. Why won’t they wear this outfit?
3. Why are they so picky with food?
My answers would be:
1. Something is wrong and school refusal is them trying to tell you that. Yes your child’s
school maybe ‘fully inclusive’ with a million plans in place but something is still not
working. It may be to loud to crowded and just may not be the right place.
2. Sensory issues? The texture of the fabric may over heat them and make them
uncomfortable, it may even prove painful. Let your child pick their clothes with you,
feel the textures and compare wool, cotton and corduroy. See what they like. If that
means they go out dressed in fancy dress occasionally is that such a bad thing? They
are children once only, applaud and encourage their individuality.
3. The feel of the food in their mouth may feel repulsive provoking the gag reflex.
Would you want to eat something that tasted and indeed felt disgusting? No I don’t
think so. Implement vitamins and blend fruit smoothies together to encourage a
good diet, as long as your child is eating something do not panic.
It’s not about having a compliant child, it’s about having a confident happy child that feels
confident enough to change their mind occasionally, so what if you had planned a coffee
with a friend while they were out?
Invite the friend over, get out some sensory play and relax!!