Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Just say no

If you can imagine the scene I’ve managed all day to avoid fights and strife. I’ve smoothed the path before my child at every turn. As I tuck them up in bed, about to kiss them lovingly on the forehead I can almost taste the relief, relaxation and few hours ahead where all I have to worry about is me.

Then she asks:

“Can I have a hot chocolate?”

Time slows to an almost stop and before me.
I visualise the potential outcome dependent on what I do next.

Option 1

I say “No, it’s a bit late now”, it all unravels, we fall into a dysregulation freefall of biblical proportions. Anything is possible, from fisticuffs, one sided slagging matches to bolting out the front door in PJs. Sleep is postponed for at least 90 mins.

Option 2

I say “Of course poppet, should we put cream and marshmallows on it”. Not ruddy likely. I frame parenting in terms of winning and losing and in this option she’s won. From this night on she would consider bedtime hot chocolate a basic human right and demand it every night.

Option 3

I say anything but the word “No”. I might say, “Of course you can. How about we put sprinkles on, oh (slaps forehead dramatically) what about your sister Peanut? She would love a hot chocolate but she’s asleep. (Pause for effect).Do you think tomorrow you could make one for her? Do you think you’re big enough to make a hot chocolate? I’m not sure, well perhaps, would you like to try tomorrow?”



I go for C, distraction and choice, I appeal to her better nature; a bit of flattery and challenge. All the while stalling for time hoping that the moment will pass and a different part of the brain will wake up.
I’m the master of saying “no” without saying “no”, the non-answer distraction technique.

Yes, I do sometimes just say “no” and it’s ok.
I sometimes say it because I can’t be bothered or am sick of being so damn wishy-washy. 
I sometimes say it and it kicks right off.

The word “no” provokes a response in my child like nothing else. Clearly, nobody likes being told “no” to a request, I don’t and Mrs C doesn’t. But for some children who’ve been ‘through the mill’ it can provoke an extreme response. A simple word that seems to provoke an avalanche of emotion and a crushing sense of being unloved and being unlovable.

If that how it feels then no wonder she doesn’t like it.


18 comments:

  1. Ohh I never knew there was an option C! It's amazing how by changing a single word the entire situation can take a completely different route - very interesting read :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, after much trial and error we discovered this to be the only solution that worked.

      Delete
  2. Ah yes, i manage option C most of the time but at bedtime (when we're all tired and cranky!) the ability seems to allude me.
    My husband is less good at option C wheich he found oyut to his peril last night after a request for another ice lolly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's a knack to it. I often feel like it's a compromise, but it works.

      Delete
  3. I live in the world of option C. It drains the life out of me. Every now and again I look into the face of one of my girls and I know they can cope with option A. Not very often but it happens. I think it's happening a bit more often but maybe I'm deluding myself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I"m the same, sometimes it's just fine. Most of the time I feel like a total wash out. Ha ha. You're a star though.

      Delete
  4. Neuroplasticity!!!!!!! Cliche that which fires together wires together, keep going mr smit keep going! Bring on the Tarmac and white lines!!.....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good grief woman, you have baffled me with science.
      Yes though.

      Delete
  5. Very interesting read. I actually have to try really hard not to say "no" all the time because that's what I find easiest, but I don't think it's at all fair. It's too final, it takes away all of the child's control. I much prefer your option 3 and constantly have to remind myself to use it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I agree with your perception that often the issue can be around control. The finality of no is overwhelming and leads to unresolvable feelings.
    Having said all that as a parent it's still hard.
    Thank you for the comment.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Totally agree - there are times for no's and then there are times for option c. Fantastic strategy:)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Thank you. Having it in the arsenal seems to be the best idea, knowing when to use is the trick.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Yes I almost never say no. Distraction is great but I also say things like ' that's an idea' to give me time to think of an alternative.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We all seem to have developed a range of methods for slipping out of these little 'moments'.
      Good work.

      Delete
  10. Love your humourous a, b. c write-up of this situation! I was talking about this (well, sort of this) to another adoptive parent this very afternoon. Where to draw the boundaries? When to look after our own needs? How to judge when to say No because they are simply pushing it - as any child might if they think they're in with a chance - and when to say Yes because, as you put it, they have 'been through the mill'..

    ReplyDelete
  11. As has been commented, it is quite exhausting. We make these judgements multiple times a day weighing outcomes and consequences. We need the wisdom of Solomon!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Oh dear, option C does look very good doesn't it?! Sadly I've discovered that I seriously lack imagination in that regard! I did decide, very early on, to avoid saying 'no' as often as possible as I think sometimes it can be a kneejerk reaction when I am tired or distracted and then when I think about it, there was no real reason for saying it and I find myself back into an illogical corner. But when a 'no' is really needed, I'm afraid I fall terribly short in framing it in more acceptable terms.

    ReplyDelete
  13. When we're on top form then it comes naturally. Not always on top form. Sometimes I feel totally miffed that I can't just say "no".
    Complex things us people.

    ReplyDelete