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Do I say “no” too much? I didn’t think so. But after I read this mom’s experiment in Cosmopolitan, I was hyper aware every time I said “no” to my two kids. What had seemed like good parenting decisions the day before suddenly felt like I was being too strict.
I decided to try out the experiment for myself. A week of saying “yes” to everything was too much —especially since their first week of school was approaching — but I knew I could manage it for a couple of days. Indulging my kids for their last two days of summer break seemed like fun, actually.
I followed the same guidelines: I didn’t tell them my plan and I reserved the right to say “no” after multiple requests. I limited the amount I was willing to spend and, of course, I would say “no” to anything dangerous. And off I went!
I had my “yes” firmly in place on Sunday morning. “Yes” to a second glass of juice for the 6-year-old, yes to watching my 7-year-old build in Minecraft. Those were easy. Despite a headache, I even said “yes” to a Nerf gun battle in the living room. When they wanted to go to the pool, I said “yes,” although it was my husband who took them because I had some work to do.
I slipped back into my old habit of saying “no” later that day. My 7-year-old asked for a cookie when they got home from the pool. Without even thinking, I said, “No, you can wait until after dinner.” I’d totally forgotten about saying “yes.” Much to his surprise, I had a cookie waiting for him when he got out of the shower.
Monday was Labor Day and we went to a baseball game. Saying “yes” meant the boys had curly fries, large sodas, cotton candy and shaved ice. That was not as much as I would’ve expected them to ask for, to be honest.
As we were snuggling before bed, I said “yes” to letting my 6-year-old watch videos on my phone. Screens at bedtime are a hard “no” for me so I hesitated, especially since he had school the next day. But it was the last “yes” of the experiment, so I went with it. What did he choose? His baby videos. My heart melted.
What I discovered after two days of saying “yes” to everything is that my kids don’t ask for nearly as much as I thought they did — and I probably say “no” more often than I need to. Indulging my kids in an afternoon cookie or a bedtime video is not going to ruin them or the good behavior I’m trying to instill, and I want my parenting choices to be made with thought rather than by rote.
So from here on out, I’ll be saying “yes” a lot more often.
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