Discipline and saying No. Sometimes it’s the hardest word

Nope. No. No! No is LM’s favourite word at the moment. She says it all the time. Do you want to get out of the buggy? No. Shall we go outside? No. Anytime she isn’t happy with something, No! It’s such a satisfying and easy little word for her to use to assert her will until her language overall improves. But this isn’t really a post about her saying no, it’s about me saying no. And how hard saying that simple word can be, but how important it is that I do.

Let me start of by saying that in terms of being a ‘perfect’ parent, I know I am nowhere near. I get things wrong, I say the wrong thing. I can be lazy and irritable and I have apologised to my children more than once for being cross with them for no good reason (and I’m sure I will have to do so many more times). But on the whole I think we are doing an OK job of it. We have a very polite and friendly 4 year old who is well behaved at school and who people always compliment. We have a 2 yr old, who lets face it is 2 so kicks off and has tantrums but is also lovely and is learning. I know some of this is luck but some of it isn’t. Some of it is down us and to the hard work we’ve put in.

I hope this doesn’t come off as arrogant as that’s not how I feel but I am proud of us and the way we are raising our kids. And I’m proud of me. I am a SAHM so this is what I do. I can’t get a promotion or a pay rise or be patted on the back by a boss and told ‘well done.’ But I hope I can acknowledge that I have had the strongest role in raising my kids and can take pride in the people they are turning out to be.

I hope I can do that as it is so hard sometimes to stick to my guns. To be the bad guy and tell them not to do things. I don’t do any of it for my benefit you see, I do it for theirs.

We know a family, and this may sound horrible and judgey, but their son’s behaviour is terrible sometimes. He runs over the back of sofas without being told not to. He is rude to old people who pass by, screams when he doesn’t get it own way and doesn’t do as his parents ask. He’s 7. Now don’t get me wrong I’m all for live and let live with parenting and how anyone does it is utterly their choice. Except that getting to know this family a little has made me feel a bit sorry for the child. He doesn’t have many friends at school or outside. I’ve spoken to other parents who don’t want their children playing with him and some children don’t like playing with him because of the way he behaves, and I can’t help feeling that it isn’t really his fault.

Like it or not we live as a small part in a big society and our society has cultural norms. Socially accepted behaviour. Our kids aren’t born knowing this. They don’t automatically know what to do in a given situation and it is our job as their parents to guide them through this. And sometimes this means being the bad guy so that we can be the good guy in the long run.

I don’t get it right every time. I’ve given in when I should have been firmer and I’ve been firmer than was absolutely necessary at times too. Sometimes I say no without thinking it through and then have to be very careful because if I seem to give in to their demands it can set a precedent and give them the wrong message. They have to know that I mean what I say and that no does mean no. So sometimes I have to stick to a no that I regret but I feel I have to stick to it. I try very hard to avoid this happening though as it is no fun for anyone.

Sometimes even when I know I am in the right about something it can be hard sticking to it. Hard to deal with the tantrum when the easy option would be to have let them do what they want. I hate seeing my children upset when I could be the one to fix it and especially when it feel like I’m the one who has caused the upset.

I could have an easier time in the short term but whenever I have made this mistake it only leads to worse tantrums or worst behaviour in the long run. Giving an extra biscuit may make them happy now but then leads to a tantrum at mealtime, refusing to eat their dinner then being tired and grumpy all evening or even the next day. So I may be a bit strict sometimes but my hope is that by giving them boundaries and expecting certain things of them, that it will help our children to be kind and polite, to be children others like and want to play with. To be children who are respectful of others and know the difference between right and wrong.

Maybe I am wrong though. I hope I’m not doing my children a disservice. I certainly don’t want to be too strict and shut down their own personality. I also don’t want them to grow up to be walked over. I want them to be strong but to be good and kind too. I guess all any of us can ever do is hope we are making the right choices for our kids!

I suppose I’m thinking about this a lot for a couple of reasons. 1 being LM reaching an age where she needs me to say no, to give her boundaries. 2 year olds do a lot of experimenting and they need to know what is ok. For example drinking out of my cup is ok, but then deliberately slowly dribbling it all out again is not. Taking a toy that is offered to you is ok, snatching is not. You get the gist.

I think Monkey starting school and socialising with different kids also plays a part though. That and his tiredness from school makes him act up sometimes.. and he has copied some behaviour he has seen other kids do. That’s always a tricky one as how to explain that it’s not OK when he sees other kids to get away with it?

Parenting is a never ending learning experience don’t you find? It’s also tricky to talk about these things as we obviously all have different experiences and think differently about things, so I hope I don’t offend anyone with what I write!

What do you think about saying no?

The Reading Residence

11 thoughts on “Discipline and saying No. Sometimes it’s the hardest word

  1. It is such a difficult job being a parent. I’ve always been quite easy going where I allow my kids things if I really don’t think there is any harm but I will stop them if I think it’s wrong. This means I have to give everything an extra little thought. I mean, is taking a biscuit for the walk to school really naughty, even though they have lovely clean teeth? I don’t like seeing kids getting away with everything without discipline though, but I also cringe at parents who have to scold children for everything. I know one mum who won’t even let their child use the toilet because they’ve already used it in the last hour or so! You have to pick your battles and use discipline when needed. Also, I firmly believe that once you’ve said no you can’t change your mind, so it’s important to give it a little extra thought about why you are saying no in the first place.

  2. ha I say no loads. To ipad, TV, more chocolate, no you can’t batter your sister. These are the main ones and I think, like you say, they are totally reasonable. It’s hard to instill boundaries but if not you will have a child like the naughty one you know! xx #wotw

  3. I’m all about ‘no’! I totally understand where you’re coming from with this post. My daughter, 7, has a classmate who isn’t very well-behaved and it is a shame for him as kids sometimes don’t want to play with him and other parents get frustrated. It is hard saying no sometimes, but it is necessary and as you say, it is for their benefit and often their safety. We can only try our best, and I know that’s just what you are doing x Thanks for sharing with #WotW

  4. Sometimes I feel like I say nothing but no and it’s awfully draining but totally necessary. Getting the balance right is so hard especially with a 2 year old who thinks the word no doesn’t apply to them, my little boy is a live wire so some days are tougher than others. I think as parents we will always question our actions but in the end all we can do is be a good example and try our best. #WotW

  5. I know I’ve ‘backed down’ at times when i shouldn’t have when I’ve literally thought in that split second ‘i’m shattered.. this isn’t easy!’ and when I’ve been too hard and thought exactly the same thing. You’re right – parenting is haaard and we should all do what’s right for our families but there’s a socially accepted ‘norm’ which we have to prepare them for (not least starting their independence in school). Yes, we should all be saying no to our littles because we’re their role models, after all! Hope it soon gets easier with Little Miss. I’m sure it will because she’ll see the pattern of no and accept it… #wotw

  6. I totally agree with you and if I’m honest it makes me quite cross when parents don’t say no to their children when they’re behaving badly. I have actually written quite a similar post in the past when I saw a lady watching her children behaving badly in a café but she didn’t tell them not to do it, she just turned to her friend and talked about how naughty her children are. The poor children had no idea they were being naughty because nobody had told them. It seems totally unfair to me because when children are in an environment where certain behaviour is expected, they just won’t know how to do it because nobody has told them right from wrong. That is our job as parents, they can’t work it out for themselves, it’s not fair to make them guess.
    Nat.x

  7. Oh gosh, gotta say no to your kids or you’re making a rod for your own back. Imagine dealing with a teenager who had never heard the word “no”. It would be an absolutel nightmare. And mo, I don’t always get it right. Sometimes I’m a pushover sometimes too strict and when I get it wrong, I feel bad. To never say no, however, would be spectacularly wrong! #truthabout

  8. Yep isn’t it hard! I find it difficult sometimes as my son is the master of negotiation so he’ll often get a ‘no’ first and then he’ll negotiate to meet somewhere in the middle. (He’s nearly 11 now). If it’s something I’m absolutely not budging on then it will still be ‘no’ but if he comes up with a good argument or reason then I’ll often hear him out and then agree to a ‘deal’. I like to think I’m teaching him some important negotiation skills and to question the world around him. It helps that he’s a well behaved, respectful boy of course.
    However, I’ve got a friend who struggles to tell her children ‘no’ at all or if she does then she’ll quickly back down when they kick off. It means that they are hard work for her most of the time which is a shame. They are ice kids too but just need to hear a firm ‘no’ more often. Oh the joys of parenting! Great post Caroline xx

  9. I find it so difficult to say no to my children! But I also worry – I don’t want my children to be the ones who other people are judging behind my back. It can sometimes be really hard to be the good cop and the bad cop when you’re single parenting. I have days where I just cannot take the stress of a fully blown meltdown from JJ and I have to find a way to compromise. I tend to try and use some kind of bargain (bribe? I don’t want to call it that but…) which often does work – at the moment I’m playing the Santa card :-)). I have been complimented by other adults who JJ has spent time with – that he is polite and well behaved – I think he just goes a bit OTT around other kids a lot of the time.. Thanks for linking up to #thetruthabout Caroline X

Thanks for taking the time to write something. I love comments and read every one xx

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