HOW TO SAY "NO" SO YOUR KIDS WILL LISTEN

HOW TO SAY "NO" SO YOUR KIDS WILL LISTEN - This Wild Home

I don’t know for sure, but if I had to guess this is the number one question parents have. What can I do to ensure my children will hear me and listen to me? The frustration of saying “no” and seeing a blank stare as your kid continues to do that thing you don’t want them to do is very real. It’s honestly infuriating and I completely understand why some will default to hitting, spanking, yelling, and severe punishment.

As if harsher consequences are what children need to obey.

So to start all of this, I just want to say, I understand the urge to create these extremes in your home. I have been in many positions where I thought to myself, “Man, I bet a spanking would make him listen to me right now and forever” or “if I locked him in his room” or “if I yell louder, just for a little scare.” It is extremely tempting to bring in those severe consequences because it really does feel like the only option sometimes.

But if there are any parents who feel that guilt, that sense of this is wrong, when implementing these extremes, I am here to say there is a better way to say no. There is totally a better way and it’s a way that you and your child can walk away from feeling proud and connected from any difficult situation that comes your way.

It seems impossible or gimmicky. On the outside, what I am going to tell you may sound like I am saying, “let your kids do whatever they want.” But I’m not.

In fact, setting boundaries, carrying out consequences, and being a leader for your children is so important for all of this. It is important that they learn to trust you to set these boundaries and stick to them.

HOW TO SAY “NO” SO YOUR KIDS WILL LISTEN

This is not necessarily an easy step to take. Taking severe punishments out of your home and implementing more respectful and peaceful ways of handling the tough stuff takes a lot of work for us parents. There are some things we have to let go of, standards we have to change within ourselves, and behaviors we need to redefine. There are so many opinions around kids who don’t listen, kids who get upset, and kids who are not exactly “normal.” We think of them as bad. It makes us think we’re bad. It’s embarrassing and we’ve been taught that these things need to be nipped in the bud ASAP.

So before you can even begin to effectively say “no,” you first need to let go of a few things within yourself in order to find confidence and assurance in yourself and your choices. That confidence will help you maintain this connection with your kids even when people are watching or judging.

THINGS TO LET GO

  • TANTRUMS ARE NOT BAD | A big thing people say no to are tantrums, crying, etc. Those yucky reactions that express pain, discomfort, or unhappiness. So many of us have been taught to hide those feelings and push them as far away as we can. In part, we were taught that by our parents because they would spank us, yell at us, or brush us off saying, “you’re fine” when we had any extreme emotions. If any of this happened in public, you were done for sure.

    I understand it’s stressful and it feels so wrong when your kid gets loud and upset. If it happens in public, in front of people looking at you and judging you, the pressure is on to quiet them down immediately, however you possibly can.

    But kids are going to get upset. They NEED to feel safe in expressing that. If you want them to trust you and listen to you, you have to trust that when they express their feelings, they are expressing them the only way they can and exactly the way they need to. Besides any physical responses to emotions (hitting people or destroying things), I encourage you to start letting your kids express their emotions as loudly and passionately as they need to whenever you can. If you’re in public, simply take them to a more private spot. But no matter what, your life will be much easier if you allow them to cry or yell or whatever they need until they don’t need to any more. (if they insist on hitting, give them a pillow and let them know they can hit that as much as they want)

    Their feelings may seem stupid or silly or so so small, but they are very real to our kids so please let them have them. Tantrums are really just the only way kids know how to express what they’re going through.

  • THEY’RE ALLOWED TO BE MAD | Similar to above, we also need to allow our kids to tell us when they are upset about a boundary we’ve set. If they want a cookie but you don’t think it will be good for them in that moment, definitely let them know they can’t have the cookie, but then let them be upset about it.

    If you’ve ever wanted anything in your life, you know it’s disappointing to not get it. What’s even more disappointing is not being able to vent about it. So let them vent. Let them be upset. It’s good for them to release those feelings. They need it. No, they don’t need the cookie and they’re not being bratty by getting upset about it. They need to be able to tell you they are upset about your “no.”

  • THEY’RE NOT ALWAYS GOING TO LISTEN | If you really think about, it’s not a kid’s job to listen. It’s their job to learn and with learning comes some falling. They are suppose to push you as hard as they can in order to gain that security that you’re in charge and that you know what you’re doing. They need this so that they can feel free to explore and learn knowing that you are there to set the boundaries they so desperately need from us. Their lives are in your hands and they are fully aware of that so they want to make sure they can trust you to keep them safe.

    So just know, they’re not always going to listen. They won’t always have the control to do so. They will sometimes have urges that are stronger than your rules and in those moments, they need understanding, compassion, and help to control those urges so they can learn to listen.

  • BUT THEY TRULY DO WANT TO MAKE YOU HAPPY | While I don’t condone using your emotions, approval, disapproval, etc. as consequences for a child’s actions, it helps to know that deep down, even when it doesn’t seem like it, they do love us and they want nothing more than for us to love them back and be happy with what they’re doing.

    Kid’s have very strong emotions. They have strong desires that drive them and these desires take turns at the forefront of their minds. They always have a desire to please us, but sometimes their desire to draw on the wall is stronger. In those moments, the worst thing you can do is make them feel like their actions can have any effect on your love for them. Showing them that you’re disappointed only send the message of, “it’s possible for me to love you less.” Which truly will only make them push harder or worse, shut down their own desires all together and submit to your every word.

    In every choice you make with your kids and how you handle them, always remember the number one thing they need from you is love and exceptence. This should never be a tool to use when they’re not listening. This should be a constant that never changes no matter how many boundaries they push.

I think changing your mindset towards certain behaviors is really what it takes. Realizing your kid isn’t a bad kid and understanding that these behaviors are normal and very expected helps to keep your nerves at bay when handling these tough situations.

All of that being said, here are some tips to saying “no” in a way your kids will listen.

HOW TO SAY “NO”

  • SET YOUR BOUNDARIES BEFORE YOU GET FRAZZLED | I think a big issue when disciplining kids is that we wait until we’re angry to finally intervene. We say “no, no, no, no” over and over again until finally we’re mad enough to go over and take action.

    The reality is, we should be taking action the minute we say no and we should be saying no long before we’re mad. We should be actively involved in the interactions, not shouting half-heartedly across the room. If you can find a way to calmly put yourself in close proximity to your kid, it will send the message of, “Oh, mom’s serious. Maybe I should stop.” Without ever having to be harsh, create fear, or cause pain to communicate your boundary.

    So the next time you see your child doing something that is dangerous or that you simply just don’t want them to do, calmly walk over. Be ready to kindly and calmly hold their hands to help them from touching or hitting something or to remove the thing that is dangerous or off limits.

    This is the best way to not only effectively communicate what you want, but to also show your kids what self control feels like. To give them an example of how to stop themselves in the future.

  • TRUST THAT THEY UNDERSTAND YOU | No matter how old your child is, no matter how developed their speech may be, they get it.

    Something that I think a lot of people don’t realize is that their kids understand so much of what they’re saying. They understand when you’re telling someone a negative feeling you have towards them. They understand when you’re proud. They understand when you don’t want them to do something. They’re not dogs that can only comprehend simple commands. They’re human beings who are learning, but who know more than they can express.

    I encourage you to speak to your kids as if they’re five. Better yet, as if they’re another adult that you are asking a favor from. An adult who may be currently destroying your living room in a fit of extreme play, but still an adult who deserves the respect of full sentences. And as an added bonus, add a please and thank you. After all, your kids are learning how to talk by how you talk to them. If you bark orders and simple commands at them with no amount of curtesy, they are learning they can do the same in the future.

  • WORK ON YOUR PHRASING | The way you phrase your requests really can make or break how your child responds. It’s important that you are as direct, clear, and confident as possible. Thing’s like “we shouldn’t” “mommy doesn’t like” etc. only creates a disconnect in the situation. It gives them an out. With these types of phrases you’re giving them the opportunity to say, “maybe WE don’t but I do.” And saying “mommy doesn’t”rather than “I don’t” can create a divide where kid and mommy are two characters in a story rather than you and your child engaging in a learning moment together.

    Two things you can say to replace the simple “no” are:
    - “I won’t let you...”
    - “I can’t let you....”

    It takes emotion out of it, it’s not vague. It is a direct, realistic comment on what you can and can’t let your child do. Keep it simple and short while still giving them that respect of a full sentence. This along with being physically present and ready to stop a hand from grabbing or hitting will really go a long way. I promise, even if you don’t think they can, they will understand and appreciate this so much more than just saying, “no.”

  • DON’T ALWAYS ASSUME THEY HEAR YOU | Did you ever have a moment when you were young where you were fully engaged in something and all of a sudden your mom was in your face yelling at you, super upset about something? Odds are, she’d already asked you five times and you didn’t hear her.
    Not to say getting to that point of yelling is okay, but I’m just giving some perspective on the kid’s side of things.

    When kids get into something, they become completely engaged. Everything they see, hear, think, and do is all in the activity in that moment. So when you say across the room, “I need you to…” “I can’t let you…” There is always that chance that they literally don’t hear you.

    When you’re talking to your kids, the best chance of getting them to hear you and listen to you is to actually physically be near them, maybe lay a gentle hand on their back, and calmly say the thing you want them to hear. It will save you a lot of grief if you realize they’re not intentionally ignoring you, but that they simply don’t hear you.

    Honestly, I can’t tell you how many times a simple whisper has been far more effective than a distant yell.

IF THEY STILL WON’T LISTEN

If you try all of this and they still won’t listen, try and take a step back. Remove anything that could be dangerous, and then just step back and ask “why?”

Is your child hungry, tired, in need of a diaper change, overstimulated, under-stimulated, effected by a bad mood I may be passing on? Have you gone through a big change recently? What in their world could be causing this behavior?

Sometimes kids use their rebellion as a way to express a bigger emotion that they just don’t know how to tell you about. Kids don’t always know how to say, “I’m tired.” So instead, they’ll play with things that are off limits, throw food on the floor, hit you, yell at you, etc.

When you realize that the “why” is much more than a simple test of boundaries, you can start to try and determine what they need in order to give it to them. No, even when they are adamantly insisting on not listening, I still don’t believe punishment is the answer. Is it really fair to punish them for asking for something they need in the only way they know how to?

So when they’re truly infuriating, look around, look at them, look at the time and see what they’re really trying to tell you. Sometimes it’s as easy as handing them a cracker and sometimes it’s as tough as needing to have a big tantrum to get out some emotions they’ve been holding onto.

Boundaries are incredibly important, but a simple, “no” is never the answer.

LOVING YOURSELF POSTPARTUM

LOVING YOURSELF POSTPARTUM - This Wild Home

So it’s my second time being postpartum and I’ve got to say, I’ve learned a lot on caring for myself, even when it’s hard to.

I’d say the biggest struggle is your postpartum body. It’s in pain, it’s worn, it sags, and it really doesn’t feel like your body will ever look as good as it did before you started having babies.

Basically, to me, going from your pre-baby to post-baby body is like having an attractive, nice boyfriend that you have trouble loving because of all his “flaws” and then breaking up with him to find that, compared to the rest of the dating pool, his flaws weren’t so bad and having to find a way to fall in love with a less attractive, not quite as nice guy.

Maybe it’s a weird analogy. Maybe it sounds really superficial, but that’s how it feels to me. You go through all your teen years, maybe even early adulthood, acknowledging all the flaws in your young, unworn body and it’s not until you take it to hell and back that you finally realize that yes, it can get much worse.

I’m sure this all sounds terrible at a time where appreciating all body types no matter what is a big movement and I think it’s amazing and helps me to feel pretty positive about my body these days… but I also think it’s OK to acknowledge that there are negative things about a postpartum body and it’s OK to grieve your old body and want to do everything you can to feel good in your new one.

***

Ranting aside, when I got pregnant the first time around, I in no way prepared for the reality that my body wouldn’t go back to normal for a long time, if ever. I imagined I’d bounce back in a second and my body would be exactly the same. I didn’t prepare for a little pouch of skin that will seemingly never go away. I didn’t prepare for my boobs to sag like they’re 80 years old. I didn’t prepare to have stretch marks everywhere from my stomach to my thighs that will forever look like someone came in and ripped my skin to shreds and glued it back together again.

You just don’t think about all of that when you’re planning on creating a human life. You’re a little more focused on the whole creating a human life part.

But this time, I was prepared. I prepared for the absolute worse and because of that, I was able to go into my postpartum life knowing that I would need to care for myself and love myself no matter what.

LOVING YOURSELF POSTPARTUM

From the actual healing that you need to do physically to the emotional healing of exhaustion, becoming a mother (again, if you already have kids), and losing the body you never fully appreciated. From the day your baby is born, it is so important to remember to care for yourself as much as you can. You have very little control over what your body is doing, what your baby is doing, and how your time is spent so when you get a few moments to take control, it’s extremely valuable and should be used wisely.

  • STOCK UP | Before baby even arrives, make sure you’re all stocked on some basic essentials.

    • Pads - super jumbo ones, just in case.

    • Adult Diapers - seriously are a dream that first week so you can hold in all the stuff you need to use for healing.

    • Hemorrhoid Things - witch hazel pads, a cream, whatever sounds best. But definitely don’t skip on this. I’m embarrassing myself now to save you later.

    • Nipple Cream - if you’re planning on pumping or breastfeeding, this is a real must.

    • Breast Pads - you will leak for a couple of months and these will help you to avoid ruining all of your shirts.

  • TAKE ME TIME | You’d think this would be obvious, but it can be hard to feel like it’s okay to take time to yourself after baby is born. I know I feel guilty sometimes that I don’t want to sit and watch my baby sleep literally all day, but I mean, come on. Babies are cute, but not look-at-them-24/7 cute.

    When you get the chance, take a bath, watch a TV show, write in your journal. Whether you wait for baby to fall asleep or you pass baby off to someone else, make sure you’re getting some good time in.

  • ENGAGE IN RETAIL THERAPY | This is probably weird advice coming from a self-proclaimed minimalist, but I believe there is a time and place for retail therapy and it is when you’re postpartum.
    You’ve just spent the last nine months slowly watching the number of clothes you fit into shrink down to only a select few. You’ve spent at least a month or two with only a handful of things that are actually comfortable to wear, and now you have at least a month (at LEAST) until your body is sort of normalish.

    Girl. Get you some clothes that make you feel good. Just do it. Whether it’s leggings that hold everything in or a shirt that covers you engorged boobs perfectly or the coziest sweater you’ve ever put on your body. Just get something that makes you feel good.

  • INVEST IN YOUR BEAUTY | Sorry if I sound like a shallow broken record, but making yourself look good helps you to feel good. Especially at a time when it’s hard to feel like you look good.
    Schedule an appointment at a salon. Get yourself some masks, cleansers, and moisturizers that make you feel luxurious. Take time every morning to get yourself ready. Like really ready. Like make up, hair done, and a cute outfit ready even if you have no where to go. It gives your day purpose and you confidence.

  • EAT HEALTHY, MOSTLY | It’s really tempting to stick to all freezer meals and take out, but it really doesn’t make you feel good. You’ll feel heavy and drowsy at a time when you already feel sleepy and bulky.
    It’s not easy making food when you’re getting used to a new baby and I’m not saying everything needs to be amazing. But a smoothie here and there or a salad when you feel like it can go a long way to give you an energy boost.

    But also, if you’re like me, you may have felt really guilty anytime you gave into an unhealthy pregnancy craving. But now, besides your breastmilk, there’s no baby to share with your body anymore so definitely indulge in all those yummy treats you didn't have when you were pregnant.

  • GET INTO A ROUTINE | It’s kind of hard at first to make your day normal, but after a few weeks your baby should start to know the difference between night and day, you should be much more confident with feeding, and your baby will naturally start to fall into a rhythm.
    When this happens and you start to feel like things are normal, think about everything that’s important to you to do in a day and start making a routine that includes all of those things.

    For me, I like getting ready. I like making my meals. I like a clean house. I like downtime. So that’s what I focus on in my day. I don’t make perfect meals, I’m not always dressed to the nines, and my house isn’t always spotless, but it’s a start. I do what I can when I can and having it happen around the same time everyday helps with that a lot.

Babies don’t have to take over your life. Your dreams and goals don’t have to change just because you have a baby. You can still be your own person. While there’s a learning curve with getting your life on track after having a baby, the best way to make everyone happy is to make sure you’re doing what you need for you. Right now, baby only needs food, diaper changes, and a safe place to sleep. They need love and attention, but not all of the love and attention we have. Some of that still has to stay with us.

After all, how can we love another if we don’t truly and fully love ourselves?

BOOK CLUB: SIBLINGS WITHOUT RIVALRY by ADELE FABER & ELAINE MAZLISH

BOOK CLUB: SIBLINGS WITHOUT RIVALRY by ADELE FABER & ELAINE MAZLISH - This Wild Home

I am the oldest child in my family and after almost 6 years of being the only child, grandchild, niece, what have you; my brother was born and I hated him. As adults, we get along and he has become one of my favorite people. But as a kid, he was my biggest competitor for our parents love and attention and I wasn’t into it at all.

About 3 years later, when my sister was born,  I was over the concept of sibling and grew up never inviting her into my world. My sibling were a distant part of my life for a very long time and I’ve felt like I missed out on many years that could’ve been spent developing these relationships to their fullest potential.

With this being my only real experience with the relationship between siblings and the effects a new child can have on a family, I was pretty nervous about how our newest child would effects our oldest.

In my mind, all I saw in the future was a toddler full of resentment that lashed out against his parents who betrayed him.

Maybe that’s a little dramatic, but it was hard for me to imagine a child who is okay with sharing attention. Especially a child like mine who has had my full attention for most of his life. How could it ever be possible that he’d actually be fine with introducing a new baby who not only shared my attention, but demanded it most of the time?

In walks Siblings Without Rivalry, the book that I never knew I needed until I read it.

I wasn’t looking for it. I honestly hadn’t thought much about the fact that I could have some influence over how my children interacted. I mean, I knew I’d have some, but I didn’t realize how much parents can effect their children’s relationships until I read the wise words of Faber and Mazlish.

ABOUT THE BOOK

This is a book set in a parenting workshop and follows the experiences of the parents and leaders who have siblings that just don’t get along. The experiences, people, and stories are all based on real life situations that parents have found themselves in with real solutions that helped them navigate the delicate world of siblings.

The stories range from adult siblings, teens, kids, toddlers, and babies. From introducing new siblings to knowing how involved we need to be as our kids get older.

You get to see the realities of what sibling relationships really look like while exploring what the root of certain feelings and actions may be. They offer examples of how changing your reactions and involvement as a parent can help your kids learn to navigate their relationships independently and more effectively.

Siblings Without Rivalry was written to help parents foster, not perfectly loving siblings, but more productive sibling interaction.

MY KEY TAKEAWAYS

This book taught me a lot about siblings and how important that relationship really is. Siblings effect so much of each other and parents effect so much of how siblings view themselves and each other.

While reading, I couldn’t help but think back to my own childhood. The way I interacted with my siblings, the role I took in my family, and how all of that has effected my adulthood and the relationships I now have with my siblings. I thought about how my parents would let us fight and how that’s helped me to be comfortable with confrontation in my adult relationships. I thought about the fact that I’ve felt like a problem at times and a loved part of the family at others and how all of that shaped the actions and decisions I’ve made.

Ultimately, I realized that your family really can shape your entire being so it’s important to do the best you can, as the parent, to make sure each child is given the opportunity to become the best version of themselves and Siblings Without Rivalry has given me the insight to understand how to do that for each of my children.

HOW YOU TREAT YOUR KIDS INDIVIDUALLY CAN DETERMINE THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH EACH OTHER

You know those “roles” people play in a family. There’s the perfect child, the problem child, the silly child, the what-have-you child. Humans love labels and as a parent it can be easy to label your children from day one.

I remember going on and on about how my first child would be peaceful and kind before he was even born. As if somehow his gentle movements in the womb could determine his whole demeanor for the rest of his life. In reality, it’s not fair to sum up a whole person in one word. These views are usually based on the actions of our kids when they are little and have terrible impulse control. They may not truly have anything to do with the traits and capabilities of our children, but the impulses they have towards the environment they’re in. 

“What I’m seeing now is that it’s up to the parent to set the tone, to make it clear that no one in the family is ‘the problem.’”

The danger in labeling your kids too soon is that you’re putting your kids in a box. You’re not letting them be a whole person. Your perfect child doesn’t get the chance to express their negative feelings which can prohibit honesty. Your problem child doesn’t get the chance to believe they can be good which can make them feel like their only choice is the wrong choice.

And with these labels, our kids can begin to view each other in these roles which can lead to resentment. Your perfect child may begin to believe your problem child is the one preventing them from having the freedom to express negative feelings. Your problem child can begin to believe your perfect child is constantly in the spotlight. And then, these roles can follow them into adulthood, making each child feel like they’re only allowed or capable of being only part of a person rather than a whole entire person.

So for the sake of your children’s relationship and your children’s futures, it’s important for each of them to know they’re allowed to venture outside of their natural tendencies. They’re all allowed to have negative feelings and actions and you believe they’re all capable of doing good.

IT’S IMPORTANT TO LET YOUR KIDS FIGHT

“Not till the bad feelings come out can the good ones come in.”

Whether your kids love each other or hate each other, the way you allow them to interact can shape how they interact with others now and later in life. This delicate relationship between your children is the perfect teaching moment for how your kids should treat peers and how they should expect their peers to treat them.

How you react to your kids stems from how your parents reacted to you. It’s so common for parents to reject negative feelings in their kids and to feel like it’s wrong to express them because so many of us were told it was wrong for us to express our negative feelings. The reality is, the more your force the negative feeling to stay in, the less they will be dealt with and the longer they will stew and grow out of proportion.

“Insisting on good feelings between the children led to bad feelings. Acknowledging bad feelings between the children led to good feelings.”

So when kids are fighting, they’re always fighting about something. There’s always a very legitimate root to every negative feeling. But they’re kids. They don’t have the experience or developmental ability to rationally and calmly explain the exact thing they’re upset about. Half the time they feel something, that feeling is so intense that all they truly know is that they have a feeling, but not always why. So they scream at you, they scream at their sibling, and only after they’re done expressing the feeling can they truly understand and communicate the “why.”

“But here’s the difference: We intervene, not for the purpose of settling their argument or making a judgement, but to open the blocked channels of communication so that they can go back to dealing with each other.”

So we don’t have to let our kids become violent. We don’t have to allow them to be cruel. If they get stuck on a loop, we can help them move forward. But we absolutely have to allow them to have their negative feelings and learn to sort through them together however they need to. It’s completely unrealistic to believe a healthy relationship between two people can come without conflict and fighting. We need to allow our children to experience that in their relationships so they can learn how to deal with real adult relationships in the future. Our job is not to tell them their feelings and expression are wrong, but to give them a safe place to learn to deal with their feelings so they can learn to express them productively and considerately. But they will never learn that as long as we’re telling them to stop fighting and “get along.”

EQUAL IS NOT FAIR AND FAIR IS OVERRATED

I think we all, at one point or another, have said the words, “That’s not fair.” Whether it was when we were young or even now in our adulthood. Fair is another thing I think we all grew up believing was right and unfair was wrong. That unfair meant you were receiving less, even though fair was never really as satisfying as we thought it would be.

“That was when I realized how futile it was to ever try to make things equal. The children could never get enough, and as a mother, I could never give enough.”

I think this comes from the desire to not show favoritism or make one kid feel less important than the other. So when one gets attention, we think the other should get the same amount of attention. The problem is, each child may not need the same amount or type of attention we gave the other. One may be hungry and need extra pancakes, while the other may only want more pancakes now because they saw their sibling get more.

But when you start playing that game, the fair game, you stop addressing the individual needs and qualities of each child. You don’t give them an opportunity to learn empathy for one another. To see and realize that others have needs that are different from theirs and sometimes others will get something they don’t.

Beyond that, “fair” can become “same” and same takes away from your kid’s ability to feel like a unique individual.

“By valuing and being partial to each child’s individuality, we make sure that each child feels like a number one child.”

When dealing with your kids, it’s okay to give one child something without giving every child something. Attempting to make everyone happy and “equal” will not only drive you crazy, but it won’t truly make each child feel special or uniquely cared for in the long run.

“To be loved equally is somehow to be loved less. To be loved uniquely - for ones own special self - is to be loved as much as we need to be loved.”

So if you’re a parent of siblings or simply a sibling yourself, this book can help you navigate the intricate and delicate world of siblings. Not only can it help you allow your kids to flourish independently together, but you may learn something new about your own sibling dynamics that could heal any wounds that may have come about.