More On The Power Of No

I posted a few weeks ago on the desirability of me saying No a bit more often to myself when it comes to doing things I don’t have time for.

But there’s more important things to say No to, as the recent riotous events of the last few days have reminded me.

There has been a great deal of alarming reporting in the media about parents feeling afraid to discipline children because they’ll get into trouble with the authorities. In trouble with the ‘authorities’? What modes of discipline are we talking about? The rack? Water torture? Grievous bodily harm?

No, it’s apparently the threat of being reported by their little darlings for daring to say “no” occasionally.

Personally, I never worried about the Childline threats issued by my card-carrying foursome when they were younger and more easily hurt by television being banned for a week. Yes, go ahead, please do, was invariably my supportive response. Let them hear what a mithering, whinging wotsit you are.

I’ve always found “No” to be remarkably effective. Training needs to start early of course: when the eight month old crawler escapes from the bedroom and starts towards the top of the stairs, the booming shock of a stern “NO” works a treat.

Like everything, it gets easier with practice. No, no, no. As long as it’s always meant, of course, and as long as it’s an important issue. Which basically means anything H&S related (too much telly/computer falls into this category since it makes them bad tempered and thus likely to fight) or something to do with morals/values (again, too much telly/computer falls nicely into this category). Anything else probably isn’t worth a good No.

One of my all time favourite No tales is from Richmal Crompton’s Just William stories. William at school in an English lesson learns that a double negative is in fact a positive. Later he asks his father if he may have a party when his parents are away.

“NO, you may NOT have a party” shouts his weary father. William is delighted by this particularly forceful permission to entertain the Outlaws.

It also helps when training children to have more than two. With two there’s an understandable tendency to want to keep things fair. The same for each of them. But with three or more, this becomes quite impossible, and you quickly give up. “Life isn’t fair; get on with it” is the invariable response to a complaint that someone has something the other one wants. They get used to having to wait for pretty much everything. In the end, they don’t bother asking. It’s pointless. They know what the answer will be.

A resounding No.

Let’s hear it for meanie nasty spoilsport parenting!

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