Parents are usually afraid of telling their children”no.” However, you are doing your child a tremendous disservice by failing to give them that experience of telling them “no.”
For most parents, the idea of fulfilling their child’s desires is enticing – and more so if they can grant those desires, and more often than not even if it’s not possible for them to do so. Parents naturally look out for the well-being of their kids. However, happiness emanating from material possessions is fleeting. Research suggests that there is a deviation-amplifying side to desiring the newest “thing,” whether it’s the latest toy in the market or the most recent smartphone available. It stimulates a sense of deficiency which is only temporarily satiable.
When you give them the new “hot” item, your kids may be full of joy and incredibly grateful, but as soon as another new hot item hits the market, that sense of happiness and gratefulness fades all too quickly. At that point, the kid views what they have as obsolete and deeply unsatisfying. And when you buy them the latest hotness, then the cycle tends to repeat itself once the next phenomena become available in the market. This then becomes an ongoing vicious cycle that breeds a frequently dissatisfied and unhappy kid.
One of the most valuable lessons that your kid should learn from you is that real happiness is found when you make the most of what you have; genuine happiness does not come from getting what you want.
It is essential for your kids to learn how to deal with not getting what they want when they want it. Several reasons make parents loth the idea of setting limits with their children and ultimately enforcing them;
- They are afraid their kids will be upset/angry with them
- They want to compensate for the guilt they may have due to some experience with the kid
- They want to be friends with their kids
- They feel that their kids should get everything they wish for
- They feel like their kids should get more than they did when they were children
- They fear that denying their kids their desires would be depriving them as they had been deprived as kids
Do you agree with these sentiments?
Parents who always do everything possible to not say no to their children will eventually feel the desire to impose limits at one point in time. This process will not be a smooth one for the parent and the kid. When your kid gets used to getting all they ask for, denying them this luxury makes them feel deprived.
By saying No, you are essentially setting limits. It is natural for your kid to test your limits to confirm if they are for real. This is when they cry, beg, plead, throw tantrums, get very angry, whine or even do all of the above. In as much as this points to their distress at failing to get their wishes granted, it is also a test to see if you will budge.
If you give in, you are sending a message to your kid that “no” only means no when you do not act. They will know that when they plead, cry or wine, you’ll give them what they want. Giving in makes your kids cringe-inducing tendencies grow and reoccur frequently, and you may find it difficult to curb in the future.
If you stand firm with your decision, your kids will eventually learn to accept the limits you set. However, if you are not firm and budge after they cry, plead, whine or beg then what you teach them is that, if they plead, whine, beg or cry long enough they will eventually get what they want.
However, saying no should not be dramatic. Just be straightforward and steadfast while trying to incorporate a touch of humour can make the process seem smooth and painless. Saying things like “Nope, not today Mike” or “No way, Jose” will go a long way. You need to say no using a friendly tone whenever there is a need to do so. What this does is it teaches the kid that ‘once mom or dad says that, I’m not getting what want no matter how much drama I cause.’
When there are two parents involved, they need to agree when setting the limits and enforcing them. When the parents conflict, they undermine each other and in turn send mixed signals to their children. This makes t easy for a kid to play one parent against another and they quickly figure out who they can go to maximize their chances of success in getting what they want. It becomes even trickier when the parents are no longer together. However, the parents need to do all they can to ensure they agree when it comes to this issue for the best interest of their children.
Children need to learn. And learning involves setting limits. Parents also need to be courageous and strong enough to withstand the emotional onslaught brought by the frustration, anger, sadness and any other forms of upset from their kids. This sort of distress tolerance may prove difficult for most parents.
No parent is happy when their kids are angry at them, but continuously giving in to your child’s demands desires and wishes becomes detrimental to their future well-being. They grow up with unrealistic expectations of how the world works. They view the world as existing to fulfil their perceived needs, and this makes it harder for them to succeed in life when they encounter circumstances that are indifferent to those needs.
Children need to gain experience in learning how to delay gratification and cope with these limits placed on them. The resilience developed by your kid from these experiences lasts them a lifetime, while their anger and upset directed at you is only temporary