Say YES to Your Kids - Here's Why and How

wild abandon Sep 25, 2021

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It can seem like our jobs as parents is to find out what our kids want and declare whether or not they get to have it.

YES or NO, we decree.

This is a great and heady power.

Saying No Is Too Easy

We default to no.

Then one NO accidentally slips into no no no no no no no no no….

To know this, all you have to do is listen.

One day I paid close attention, and this is what I heard myself saying to my toddler:

  • “No, you can’t climb on that chair. Or that chair. Or that one.”
  • “No, you can’t touch the stove. Or the oven.”
  • “No, you can’t touch that cabinet.”
  • “No, you can’t open the freezer.”
  • “No, you can’t grab that marker.”
  • “No, I’m not going to give you my drink.”

And that was just 20 minutes in the kitchen during breakfast! Imagine how the rest of the day sounded!

The life of a child is overrun with barriers and boundaries every step of the way. The no’s are relentless!

If you really pay attention to a day in the life of a child you’ll never honestly think that MORE restriction is warranted.

Listen to your child. To their day. To their life.

Then make a commitment to finding as many ways to say YES as you possibly can.

How to Start Saying YES

The things kids want to do are often messy, risky, expensive, or boring to the grownups they want by their side.

But it’s worth it to BOTH of you to try to push for YES. Stretch your own boundaries. Broaden your preferences. Rein in your reflexive rejection.

πŸ’™ YES you can make messes that take me mere seconds to clean but that build a sense of creativity and exploration that will last you a lifetime.

πŸ’™ YES you can take some physical risks, because I’ll be here to catch you or to comfort you if I don’t, and that has value, too.

πŸ’™ YES, I will help you with things that bore me, annoy me, and “waste my time”, because holy shit this time is so short, so valuable, and too amazing to fill it with NO.

When you’re ready to start saying yes, go slowly. Don’t fling open the doors, become a whole new wild person, and scare your child with your 180.

Start small. Be flexible. Make exceptions.

  • Yes, a little bit.
  • Yes, 5 more minutes.
  • Yes, for today.
  • Yes, one more.
  • Yes, sort of.

When you start to say no, ask yourself if you have a good reason. When you’re first starting out this may sound like, “No. Oh. Well…. I guess so.” It’s easy to say no, and it’ll still pop out automatically for awhile.

The more often you catch yourself, the farther you move into a life of YES.

Why do we focus on the word YES?

Is it because it’s our job to give kids everything they ask for?

Haha, no.

Is it because we have to be positive all the time?

Also no.

It’s because in between all the things kids ask for and all the details of our moments together, our children are looking for one thing that they never say out loud.

They are always looking for the answer to the questions:

Are you on my side?

Are we on the same team?

Do you have my back?

Focusing on the word yes helps us stretch ourselves into a place where we are on the same side and tuned in to our kids.

We want the answer to the DEEP questions to be yes.

Even when we’re in a bad mood…

or they’re in a bad mood,

when we can’t pull more

or money
or extra arms

out of thin air…

we can still make the answer YES

YES we are in this together.


~~Issa Waters


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