“A famous teacher received one day the visit of a poet who was in favor of leaving the children entirely free to grow according to their own nature. The teacher did not contest his arguments, but invited him just to go into his garden. Once there, the poet was surprised to find no flowers, everything was covered in weeds.
– Before it was full of roses – said the teacher – but one day I decided to leave the garden in totally free and this is the result”.
Parents often confuse the limits with repression, they believe that the rules are a terrible limitation of freedom. However, we can discipline with love, the prudent and reasonable limits help children to grow up in a safer manner since they know exactly what is expected from them. Therefore, it is important to learn to say “no” to children, even if initially for parents is difficult and painful.
When we have to say “no” to children?
The “no” grows with your child. During the first year of life the needs and desires of the child overlap, so parents have to rush to meet them because this way they build the foundations for a secure bond. When the child receives attention and affection and his needs are met, he/she also feels confident and secure.
However, little by little, the wishes of children grow up and begin to go far away from their demands, so sometimes you need to set limits. For this reason, between 9 and 14 months should appear the first “no” at low energy.
From 14 to 18 months, when the child begins to ask for more independence, but is not yet independent and easily breaks down if its demands are not met, it must appear the high-energy “no”; that is, a decisive and categorical rejection.
It is important to note that a too permissive education can undermine the self-discipline of a child. Parents who are unable to say “no” often tend to run into problems half-way, when that child becomes a teenager or a young rebel.
Therefore, there are some situations in which “no” is essential:
– When they act in a violent way, with other children, with adults or animals. To the child should be clear that violence can never be the solution to the problems and is not a permitted behavior.
– When they’re are in danger. It is important that children discover their surroundings with relative freedom by making their own mistakes, but they should not be exposed to unnecessary risks. The parents’ job is to promote the independence, along with security
– When they have exceeded the limits and what they did is unacceptable. It is important that children learn from an early age that there are certain rules to be respected and that certain behaviors are not acceptable because violate the rights of the others. They have to learn that their freedom ends where it starts that of the others.
Why say “no” is so important?
“No” is a word that has an enormous power. Children will hear it often from their parents and parents from the mouths of their children. Both have to get used to, because the word helps to set boundaries and indicates that we are not willing to go beyond, so in some cases it is also a way to teach the child to assert their rights and that the others will respect his/her identity.
In addition, the “no” helps children learn to delay gratification, an important lesson in life, because it strengthen tolerance reducing frustration. Therfore, when he/she grows up, will learn to make decisions in a more reflexive way, won’t act on impulse and will be able to delay gratification. Saying “no” to oneself is a signal of self-control.
Yes to “no”, but in moderation
The “no” helps to form an independent, responsible and self-confident person, but parents should be sure not to exceed it. Too many negatives may end up causing a counterproductive effect, so the child might feel very frustrated and develop a rebellious behavior. A “no” repeated a thousand times will force the child to think that the world is a bad place, and will develop a pessimistic attitude.
Therefore, it is important for parents to apply also a creative strategies. In fact, saying “no” too often will cause the word loses its strength and is no longer effective. For example, it is important to explain why he/she should not behave in a certain way. It is also advisable offering more opportunities to the child not to create an unnecessary frustration. For example, instead of just saying that he/she can not go to the park to play, we can offer some alternatives to entertain him/her.
It is essential that parents find a balance between the “yes” and “no”. When there is this balance, a “no” said at the appropriate time, with firmness and love, will generate nothing more than a little disgust with what he/she can cope perfectly.