Our kids learn how to “work the system” at a very young age. They learn how to ask for certain things and who to ask to acquire what they want.
When your child is looking to do something, get something, have something, or even just begin to ask something, how do you engage? How do you navigate such requests, demands, or compromises? What do you do when the answer that feels right for you is no?
No can be a very challenging response for many children. Why? Perhaps a child is used to it being an answer riddled with apprehension or ambiguity. For example, if you say no and you are worried about your child’s response or their disappointment, the energy around that no is unclear or picked up upon by your child. Our children sense this energy, whether we consciously or unconsciously exude it, and oftentimes know how to use it to their benefit.
Can you think of a time in which you said no but the energy felt a bit wishy-washy? What did your child do?
As parents, this means that it is imperative that we are clear on our values and how we want to respond before we offer that response.
- If something does not feel right, sit with it before you respond to your child. Take a minute or an hour to ponder your thoughts so that you can approach your child with a clear, unwavering response.
- If you need more information about their request, ask before you answer.
- If you feel a sense of discomfort regarding their request, ask yourself why you maybe feeling this way. Be a researcher within your own mind and body. What feelings does their request bring up for you, and how may this be clouding a response that honors your values?
- Think about your past history. Have you been unconsciously triggered before you have responded? How does this affect your response?
Before we can respond, it is important to examine our own preconceived notions, judgments, and triggers so that we can provide our children with a clear-minded, values-based answer to whatever request they may have. Ambiguity and apprehension send mixed messages to our children. This can be confusing for them and open the door for manipulation.
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