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.
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.
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.
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.