"When we acknowledge our children’s right to want things, as well as their right to be upset when they can’t have what they want, it goes a long way toward defusing their anger and the tantrums that occur as a result.” -- Nancy Samalin
The part of NO that our kids don't understand is the part where we make them feel bad about themselves and what they want, instead of just saying NO to the behavior.
How do you feel when you can't have something? Maybe a nice vacation, or dinner at a fancy restaurant, or even just a few minutes to yourself? Think how much better you feel when your spouse, or friend, responds to your desire like this:
"I see how much you want that....I wish you could have it...You deserve it....Wouldn't it be nice?"
But what if instead they say:
"No way! What, are you crazy?! In your dreams! Get over it!" or, worse yet,"You're always wanting things! You're so greedy and self-centered! Do you think you're the center of the universe?" From your perspective, your kid's desire to stay up later, swing from the lights at the doctor's office, or have her birthday party at a fancy place might be just plain nuts. But if you can say YES to the feelings and desire, even while you say NO to the behavior or request, your child will feel (and act) a whole lot better.
"You wish you could stay up later. When you're big, I bet you'll stay up all night, every night, right? But right now it's bedtime. Do want to pick a storybook or should I?"
"You're full of energy right now. This isn't a good place for jumping around, but when we get outside, we can play a little in the park across the street before we head home. Want to play this puzzle game with me while we wait for the doctor?"
"You wish you could have a party at that place, but we can't afford it. I see how disappointed you are, Sweetie. I know you want a really great party where all the kids will have lots of fun. Let's brainstorm about how to have a really fun party in our backyard. Should everyone bring bathing suits and have a water fight? Should we make a special cake together?" You might even post a little sign on your refrigerator or car dashboard: