Saying No

Written by: Lianne Castelino

Published: Apr 8, 2011

By Lianne Castelino

From the “Disturbing but this is apparently life in 2011” file, an 8-year-old kid in Colorado with a history of anger management issues was pepper-sprayed by police at his school this week.  His mother is upset.


The kid was allegedly throwing chairs at his teacher among other things. The school district was apparently the same one where the Columbine shootings took place.  

All valid reasons, it would appear, which brings up an issue that is overlooked far too often these days:  Parents who are afraid to say NO to their kids.  This appears to be the symptom of a lot of key issues with parenting these days.

Now, let me preface this by saying, I have no idea what the root of Aidan's issues are — psychological, physiological, environmental, etc.  They may have nothing to do with his parents saying yes or no and entirely to do with him.  Neverthless…

Saying NO is not easy.  I struggle with it daily, with all three of my kids, for a whole bunch of reasons.  However, in most cases, it makes perfect sense, they get over it and they learn something.  They may not like it then, but chances are they will respect you later.  It is certainly challenging to be fair when each kid is so different and really cannot and should not be painted with the same brush.  This has taken me many years to figure out.  It is also difficult being the drill sargeant — who has a penchant for the word “no” at times.

As I've said to my kids in the past, when they go off huffing after being told NO for something:  “I'm on your side, never forget that.”

If a kid makes a case for himself, provides a worthy argument, offers sound debating points — it is entirely possible to reconsider or reverse the no.  I'm always open to that.  It really is a give and take.

However, giving in too often, especially when a kid is young invites trouble.  We all would love to spoil our kids, I'm sure, but what does that teach them?

I've seen kids have wicked tantrums and you just know that the wishy-washy, spineless parent is as much the problem as the enraged kid.  Over time though, spinelessness creates monsters, I think.  So nipping that behaviour right from the start is a good idea.

When they get older, saying no is likely met with even more resentment, rebellion, whatever.  However, by then they will hopefully appreciate right from wrong and ultimately respect your decision to say no.

At the end of the day, isn't that what it's all about — respect?  You are not always going to get what you want or hear what you want to hear, but at least respect me as your parent, and where I'm coming from — a place that has your best interests first and foremost.



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