by Argentina Ciaramella
aying no to your child sweetly is possible.
“No! Don’t go!”, “No! Don’t touch!”, “No! Wait for me.”
Often, when we must stop a child, we do it in a dry, grouchy, and possibly rude manner. We sometimes even shout or make unpleasant expressions, probably to make ourselves seem stronger and more convincing.
If we were doing this to an adult, would we do it the same way? Or, if we were in a situation where a peer, perhaps by mistake, took our cart away while we were queuing at the cash desk, we would probably say something like, “Sorry, this is my cart.” We wouldn’t react with, “No! Leave the cart now! ”
This shows that we can say no gently and calmly. It is easier for anyone to react to a command given with firmness, calmness and respect. Why should it be different with children?
A valid exercise that caregivers and educators can do, is try to be more patient when saying no. Don’t use the word no to indicate the right way for the child to act.
Let’s try transforming our commands to be more child friendly.
Instead of, “Don’t turn the tap on so much, you’ll flood everything!” you could perhaps say, “Turn the tap a little: you’ll be able to better control the water that comes out.” Or “Don’t touch the fireplace” could become, “That’s really dirty, maybe you don’t want to touch it”. “Don’t throw things” becomes, “hand that toy to your friend”, and “Don’t eat with your hands!” becomes: “Use your fork to eat those carrots.”
In this way, the command will be more significant because the no Is enriched by the suggestion to do the action well. In addition, it may become constructive and non-constrictive for the child. The child will be able to experience the right way to do an action, rather than just knowing that he shouldn’t do it. This attitude will quickly make him a master of good and effective practices. Without a corrective suggestion, perhaps with a no he will stop, but he will not have learned what he should have done and at the next opportunity, it is very likely that he will be wrong again.
We should never forget that saying no does not mean scolding, but giving advice, or orientation to our child.
Would you gladly accept advice from someone with an angry person’s face and tone of voice?
I really don’t think so.
Let’s learn to think of it not just as telling the child not to do something, but rather of how to do something, and communicate it accordingly. Let’s get closer to our baby. This will make it easier to lower the tone of your voice and therefore be kinder.
Sometimes it is necessary to say no. But you can say no with a smiling, you can say no with a hug, you can say no by holding his hand or whispering. All this will make the child more predisposed to listen to us and the message will be more significant.
Screaming and getting angry while trying to teach a child is often counterproductive because it is very difficult, if not impossible, to learn in a hostile climate.
The goal of the parent and of those who take care of our child is to create an empathic climate that facilitates the possibility of learning.