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No vs. Yes

There's a new campaign from the National Institute on Media and the Family: Say Yes to No.

The argument is that we are living in a "yes" culture different from that of previous generations. We want something, we want it now and we get instant gratification.

The "Say Yes to No" campaign points to research from the 1960s that shows that a child's ability to delay gratification is an indicator of success both in school and later in life. The test is simple. Put a child in a boring room with a marshmallow. Tell the child he has a choice: Eat the marshmallow or wait for 15 minutes and get a second marshmallow. As you'd expect, some kids eat the marshmallow right away, and others entertain themselves and wait.

We've all heard the criticism of other parents and non-parents about how we're raising our children today. If you listened to all the readers who have posted anonymously on this blog and others, we parents today let our children run roughshod over us and those around us. We don't know how to discipline. We don't know how to say "no" and be consistent.

But I'm willing to bet that many of us say "no" plenty and struggle with when to let go and say "yes." When they're babies, "yes" and "no" are simple -- if something's unsafe, it's "no." But lines shift continually as kids age. So when do you say yes and when -- and how -- do you say no? And please, add your own scenarios for the rest of us to comment on:

  • 2-year-old pulls a stool to the oven to help you cook dinner while a pot of water is already boiling.
  • 7-year-old asks to walk alone to the corner store to buy a treat -- with his own money.
  • 9-year-old wants a cellphone because all the other kids have one.
  • 4-year-old and 6-year-old, who have been sharing a room, want separate bedrooms. Or vice-versa: They've had separate bedrooms and decide they want to move in together.
  • You're at the bookstore and your 5-year-old is demanding that you buy him a book.
  • 12-year-old, who's a bit spacey, has been asked to babysit a neighbor's baby.
  • 13-year-old wants to start a Facebook page.
  • 15-year-old can't wait to buy and play the latest Grand Theft Auto video game.
  • 13-year-old is tired of sharing the family computer in the living room and wants her own computer in her bedroom.
  • Your preschoolers wouldn't stop fighting over a toy, so you took it away and put it in time out. Five minutes later, one of them is begging and pleading for the toy's return.
  • You're making dinner and your 5-year-old has decided he's hungry NOW. He grabs the potato chips from a cabinet and starts eating.
  • At basketball sign-up time, 6-year-old insisted he wanted to play. Now, it's time to go to the basketball court and 6-year-old has decided that the sport is boring and doesn't want to go.
  • 16-year-old's friend just got her license and the two girls want to drive together to a party.
  • 14-year-old just returned from the mall with an outfit you find inappropriate. She paid for it with her babysitting money.
  • You Google 17-year-old's name and find a blog he's been keeping online. Do you read it and talk with him about it or pretend you never saw it?
  • 8-year-old needs a shower, but can't be bothered. When do you insist? After 1 day? After 2? After 3? After 4? Longer?
  • 9-year-old is finally ready to leave for school. As you head out the door, you see she's wearing a ton of makeup.
  • By Stacey Garfinkle |  January 28, 2009; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Discipline
    Previous: Eight Babies! | Next: Hitting: Is Retaliation Ever in Order?

    Comments


    *4 year old sucks his thumb whilst playing with his privates 24/7

    Posted by: jezebel3 | January 28, 2009 7:20 AM | Report abuse

    Pretty much all of those are nos for me. My exceptions include the shower (that one I'd likely leave to natural consequences until I couldn't stand it any more) and the bedrooms (no harm trying if we had the room); maybe the video game, since the kid's 15, but that's dad's territory.

    Stacey, I agree: it seems like my bigger problem is figuring out when to say yes. My girl, the electron, is always on, always wanting attention, which usually takes the form of asking to have or do stuff. Even when you agree to a reasonable request, she keeps piling on other ideas -- she's definitely getting better as she gets older, but it's still a problem. It's frustrating to feel like I'm saying no all the time. Sometimes I can turn it into a joke (like, "wow, cookies, hot cocoa, AND ice cream? And who's going to help me scrape you off the ceiling when you're done?"). But sometimes being the no-monster is just part of the job.

    Posted by: laura33 | January 28, 2009 8:03 AM | Report abuse

    Moxiemom says no to 90% of the items listed. The 17 yr. old google item, really depends on the kid. The 7 yr. old depends on the neighborhood and the kid. The 8 yr. old w/the shower - I just might let him go until one of his friends comments, that's often a more effective form of behavior mod than mom.

    Posted by: moxiemom1 | January 28, 2009 8:03 AM | Report abuse

    I would also say "no" in all but a few of the above situations:

    Yes to sharing bedrooms (BTDT) and I would probably sit down with the 17 year old and discuss consequences but not force any negative action (e.g., take the blog off).

    But here's the thing. As well as saying "no" I would also say "yes" to something else. That way, the child learns where the boundary is - it cut down on the No's. So, for example, I would not let a 7 year old walk to a corner store to buy sometime alone but I would let her walk to her friend's house down the street.

    Posted by: slackermom | January 28, 2009 8:49 AM | Report abuse

    I use "no, but...." a lot. As in no, you can't work with me at the stove but you can help me by peeling this potato at the table. Yes, you can buy the clothes of your choice with your babysitting money but if you buy clothes like that, you can't wear them outside the house.
    Other no's depend on the kid and the circumstances. I'll let kids go without showers for several days in the summer if they're in the swimming pool regularly!

    Posted by: annenh | January 28, 2009 9:42 AM | Report abuse

    I think that everything that Stacey put on the list is negotiable, but that's the trick of being a good parent. It's all about evaluating the level of maturity of our kids and setting goals, limits, and gidelines for them.

    BTW: Who can say no to a 5 year old that wants a book?

    Posted by: WhackyWeasel | January 28, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse

    BTW: Who can say no to a 5 year old that wants a book?

    Posted by: WhackyWeasel | January 28, 2009 9:47 AM | Report abuse


    Anyone with a spinal column.

    Posted by: jezebel3 | January 28, 2009 9:52 AM | Report abuse

    "BTW: Who can say no to a 5 year old that wants a book?"

    Me, if they're being a PITA about it. :-)

    Posted by: laura33 | January 28, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

    I agree with others--most of these are "No, because . . ." As in, "No, I won't buy you a book because of the way you asked me." And if that wasn't in our budget at the time, I would say that too, and add that we could go to the library sometime when s/he was in a better mood and see if we could check that book out. For the 9 yo wanting a cell phone--why do you think you need one--and discuss the underlying reason as well.

    For the babysitting, I might say yes--at our house, with me keeping an eye out (if I am able to do that). Or suggest that she should start out with some other sort of supervised experience (helping the mother out when the mother is home, so she can see how the 12 yo is with the baby and how responsible she is.

    Posted by: janedoe5 | January 28, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

    Funny Jezebel, but there are a lot of parents out there that would do a headstand if it could spark an interest in books within their child. I can see just as many parents out there complaining about saying "No" to their kid insisting on buying a book as I can see parents saying, "Boy, I wish I had that problem."

    Posted by: WhackyWeasel | January 28, 2009 10:15 AM | Report abuse

    Hey - annenh, i like your style. No...but is a great way to make it easy to say no while giving your children choices and control over their actions. love it!

    Posted by: interestingidea1234 | January 28, 2009 10:35 AM | Report abuse

    anytime any child of mine of any age wants a book, I'll buy the book! I would be so happy! I don't think there's any reason to assume that the asking was done in a whining way. Actually there was one book one child wanted but it was awfully expensive so we went straight to the library and got lucky -- but I changed my plans immediately to accommodate reading. I think a lot of the list was flexible because so much depends on the child and the family, eh?

    Posted by: Bear4 | January 28, 2009 10:45 AM | Report abuse

    I would say yes to many of those and no to many of those. For me, it's about setting rules and expectations early on and sticking to it. If the rule is you can drive when you are 16, then you can drive when you are 16. If the rule is no make-up until high school, then the 9 year old knows the rule and knows they have to take it off. Let your children know what you expect from them and then stick to your guns as they try to push the limits.

    Some areas that are greyer are the computer ones, maybe because it wasn't an issue when I was a kid. I don't think a 13 year old needs a computer in her room, but if she is very interested in Facebook I would talk to her about why she wants it, what she plans to do with it, how to stay safe online, and then let her know that I will be checking up. 17-year-old blogger...I would probably read the blog and talk to him if it was inappropriate. It is public, after all...

    Posted by: colomom | January 28, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

    I'm all for "no, but" as suggested above. However, I have one son who is a negotiator, and he looks for any loophole, weakness, etc. to get around the original no. It drives me nuts. I am much more likely to just give him a flat out "no" and give his brother a "no, but". I look for opportunities to say yes to him, but he is alot like the daughter Laura33 described and it's annoying as hell.

    Posted by: mlc2 | January 28, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

    2-year-old pulls a stool to the oven -- No, this is dangerous, you can help me another way.

    7-year-old asks to walk alone to the corner store to buy a treat -- Depends on how far away corner is. Probably a no.

    9-year-old wants a cellphone because all the other kids have one -- No, not getting a phone for chatting.

    4-year-old and 6-year-old, who have been sharing a room, want separate bedrooms. Or decide they want to move in together -- If possible (have the extra room), yes.

    You're at the bookstore and your 5-year-old is demanding that you buy him a book -- no, since you phrased it as "demanding". If a polite request, may consider.

    12-year-old, who's a bit spacey, has been asked to babysit a neighbor's baby -- No for a baby. Allow 12-year old to first babysit children, see how kid handles responsibility.

    13-year-old wants to start a Facebook page -- only if I as parent can login to it, and we sit down together to set privacy settings (only friends can view, no add-on apps that insist on access to profile and data). Explain possibility of canceling it if kid or his/her friends get out of hand. No photos, either.

    15-year-old can't wait to buy and play the latest Grand Theft Auto video game -- hmm... I've played older versions, they are pretty brutal... but I'd probably allow it and play alongside kid the first few times.

    13-year-old is tired of sharing the family computer in the living room and wants her own computer in her bedroom -- NO.

    Your preschoolers wouldn't stop fighting over a toy, so you took it away and put it in time out. Five minutes later, one of them is begging and pleading for the toy's return -- NO. Let the lesson sink in.

    You're making dinner and your 5-year-old grabs the potato chips from a cabinet and starts eating -- Take the chips away. Wait for dinner.

    At basketball sign-up time, 6-year-old insisted he wanted to play. Now 6-year-old doesn't want to go -- He's going.

    16-year-old's friend just got her license and the two girls want to drive together to a party -- Absolutely not.

    14-year-old just returned from the mall with an outfit you find inappropriate. She paid for it with her babysitting money -- Take it back.

    You Google 17-year-old's name and find a blog he's been keeping online -- Don't read it, tell him you found it, ask him if he minds. If his blog is available to the world, well, I'm part of the world, it's not a private diary - but I would respect his possible reluctance to have his parents in on it.

    8-year-old needs a shower, but can't be bothered -- Get in the shower, now! Can't be bothered? Heck, I'll bother him!

    9-year-old is finally ready to leave for school. As you head out the door, you see she's wearing a ton of makeup. -- Get back inside and change.

    Posted by: hitpoints | January 28, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

    Generally no. When you are 18 you are getting booted out of the house and can do anything you want and suffer the consequences.

    Here are a few:

    You want to run some errands. At what age and how long can you leave your kids alone?

    A 9 year old for 10 minutes?

    1 hour?

    4 hours?

    Longer?

    What if that 9 year old has a 6 year old sibling?

    Posted by: Bitter_Bill | January 28, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

    Maybe I'm less helicopterish than most parents, but I would let my 7 year old walk to the corner store.

    I let my 2 year old cook with me, but I keep a very close watch on her and would find another way for her to help than hovering over a pot of boiling water.

    As for computers, they stay in public places and I can see whatever you're doing. Just like my rules with daddy's computer usage. (KIDDING. Kind of.)

    Posted by: Marimom | January 28, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse

    OK, so this is coming from someone who is 6 months pregnant with my 1st child, but has spent time as a nanny, not just a babysitter....

    If safety is an issue, there doesn't need to be a "but". If you know the teenage friend, and have spoken to her parents, then you make an informed decision. But random new driver - no.

    A computer in the bedroom - why? I can understand having more than one computer in a house with multiple tweens/teens. But odds are against your 13 YO sending naked pictures of herself to her boyfriend from a computer in the family room, and while privacy is important, it doesn't outweigh safety.

    For older kids, it seems like a lot of these issues are discussion points. Not a decision to be made quickly, but to see how well your kid really knows what he/she is asking, why they really want it, and impacts that go beyond the short-term.

    For younger kids, isn't that why they invented distractions?

    Of course I grew up in a household where the words "life isn't fair" were uttered regularly in response to mine, and my siblings protests against my parents decisions. I have friends I've met as an adult who were always given everything, and now give their kids everything, and I wonder how many years, post-college, they'll be supporting those kids, who are used to getting everything.

    Posted by: JHBVA | January 28, 2009 11:07 AM | Report abuse

    (Hmm, I posted a long response to this and it got held up as being too long. So, splitting it..)

    Wow, bad acid trip, man! Nothing like reliving the last 20 years of my life.

    Things that get a "NO"

    • You're at the bookstore and your 5-year-old is demanding that you buy him a book. (because of the way he asks. If he asks politely he’ll probably get it. “It’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it” is an important lesson to teach.)
    • 9-year-old wants a cellphone because all the other kids have one.
    • 15-year-old can't wait to buy and play the latest Grand Theft Auto video game. – It’s rated “Mature”, which is for 17+. That’s equivalent to an R-rated movie, and I don’t take you to those, either.
    • 13-year-old is tired of sharing the family computer in the living room and wants her own computer in her bedroom. – ABSOLUTELY NO computers in private spaces – public spaces only. Non-negotiable.
    • You're making dinner and your 5-year-old has decided he's hungry NOW. He grabs the potato chips from a cabinet and starts eating. – Disrespectful and disobedient. Chips get taken away and 5 year old gets sent to his room.
    • At basketball sign-up time, 6-year-old insisted he wanted to play. Now, it's time to go to the basketball court and 6-year-old has decided that the sport is boring and doesn't want to go. – Before he signed up, we had a long talk about team sports, commitment to others, etc. You don’t quit in the middle and you don’t have a bad attitude, either.
    • 16-year-old's friend just got her license and the two girls want to drive together to a party. – Under MD law, a new license is “provisional”. The teen driver CAN’T drive other, non-family teenagers unless there’s an adult in the car.
    • 8-year-old needs a shower, but can't be bothered. When do you insist? After 1 day? After 2? After 3? After 4? Longer? – We all have rules to follow. She’ll follow them. (In practice, the problem has been the opposite. The teenagers tend to like 2 or 3 showers per day. I can’t get any hot water!)

    Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | January 28, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

    Part 2 - things that get a "YES"

    • 4-year-old and 6-year-old, who have been sharing a room, want separate bedrooms. Or vice-versa: They've had separate bedrooms and decide they want to move in together.
    • 12-year-old, who's a bit spacey, has been asked to babysit a neighbor's baby. – ONLY IF she’s had the baby-sitting training class and done well in it. (IIRC, to babysit someone else’s under-two-year-old you have to be 13 in this county. A 12 year old can babysit two year olds and up. I could be wrong, but that’s how I remember it. With three daughters, we were REALLY popular among folks looking for babysitters.)
    • 13-year-old wants to start a Facebook page. – under the following conditions: (a) Mom and Dad are Friends; (b) no-one else is a friend without our approval; (c) no personally-identifying information, revealing pictures, etc. We’ll check and at the first violation this comes down.
    • You Google 17-year-old's name and find a blog he's been keeping online. Do you read it and talk with him about it or pretend you never saw it? – He was only allowed to have it if I was a “friend” and knew about it. So we have a long talk about the ramifications. (DS’s boss asked him the other day why he wrote “I hate my job” on his Facebook page. Quick lesson for DS there.)

    Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | January 28, 2009 11:20 AM | Report abuse

    Part 3 - things that get a "MAYBE"

    • 2-year-old pulls a stool to the oven to help you cook dinner while a pot of water is already boiling. - Can this be done from a safe distance/keeping her out of my way?
    • 7-year-old asks to walk alone to the corner store to buy a treat -- with his own money. - Depends on the neighborhood.
    • Your preschoolers wouldn't stop fighting over a toy, so you took it away and put it in time out. Five minutes later, one of them is begging and pleading for the toy's return. – Do you BOTH agree that you can now share it properly? If so, you can have it back.
    • 14-year-old just returned from the mall with an outfit you find inappropriate. She paid for it with her babysitting money. – Well, she was most likely with her mother when she made the purchase and Mom has approved it. Mom and I might have a talk but I suspect I’ll lose.
    • 9-year-old is finally ready to leave for school. As you head out the door, you see she's wearing a ton of makeup. – That means it was her mother’s or one of her older sister’s makeup, since the 9 year old didn’t have any of her own. I just let the 9 year old know that I’m reporting this to the makeup’s proper owner and will let that female handle the situation. Then Whacky and I go out for a few beers. 

    Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | January 28, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

    I recently experienced the spacyey, babysitting 12 year old scenario. Our pastors were looking for someone to babysit their nearly 2 year old son. My daughter had taken the red cross classes and became certified and everything, but she was still coming across as dippy and irresponsible to me. Do I let her babysit the pastors' son? I said "yes", and they love her. she is tremendously responsible at their house, they love her and she is now their regular friday date night sitter. And it's done wonders for her confidence. She has even taken to thoroughly cleaning and KEEPING HER ROOM fairly clean. I guess the "yes" depends on the scenario and the age. I'm very glad that I said yes.

    Posted by: greensboroagent | January 28, 2009 11:29 AM | Report abuse

    9-year-old is finally ready to leave for school. As you head out the door, you see she's wearing a ton of makeup. – That means it was her mother’s or one of her older sister’s makeup, since the 9 year old didn’t have any of her own. I just let the 9 year old know that I’m reporting this to the makeup’s proper owner and will let that female handle the situation. Then Whacky and I go out for a few beers. 


    Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | January 28, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

    The makeup belongs to your DS.....as does the thong .
    Now go for the beers.

    Posted by: jezebel3 | January 28, 2009 11:32 AM | Report abuse

    to bitter_bill...this may have been in the 70's but my brother and i were latchkey kids when I was 9 and he was 6. We were home alone for hours. We came in, called mom, got a snack and did our homework. Mom would even have me-GASP-turn on the oven and pop in the food that she had prepared that morning so dinner would be ready when my parents got home from work. I think a child can stay alone for a while. We did it all the time. I don't know when we got to the point that we feel we can't run quick errands without our children. All of the dangers we come up with now were mostly present then and it wasn't an issue.

    Posted by: greensboroagent | January 28, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

    greensboroagent - that actually happens a lot. The kids will be VERY different - much more mature - when they're given responsibility outside of the house.

    jezebel3 - Bwaah! Nope; but thanks for playing. (And by the way, I'm still wondering if you're Whacky. You never answered that question.)

    Posted by: ArmyBrat1 | January 28, 2009 11:36 AM | Report abuse

    I think greensboroagent makes an excellent point. Our kids may seem spacey/rude/lax/whatever to US (the parents) but often they behave much better AWAY from us. I get compliments all the time about my children - how polite/considerate/hardworking/thoughtful they are. Honestly? I am amazed by what other folks say, but I'm also happy. It means something in DH's and my parenting is going right.

    If someone wants to hire the 12 year old as a babysitter, then maybe give them the chance, especially if the child has taken all the courses.

    Posted by: slackermom | January 28, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse

    I get compliments all the time about my children - how polite/considerate/hardworking/thoughtful they are. Honestly?

    Posted by: slackermom | January 28, 2009 11:39 AM | Report abuse


    I get the same thing from DH's co-workers. He's so co-operative, always willing to lend a helping hand, listen to our problems (that one I do believe, most of his female co-workers are uber sexy). Sheesh.

    Posted by: jezebel3 | January 28, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

    Well, I wouldn't automatically say No to any of these (except those dealing with toddlers). What I found pretty useful was to say things like - "hmmm, not sure, let's talk about this". At which point I would tell my boys what my concerns were and let them tell me why they thought whatever it was was ok. More often than I expected, we came up with a way to satisfy them, sometimes by letting them do it, other times by modifying the request in some way.

    Basically I believe in tailoring my responses to the child's age, but giving them a chance to change my mind. That said, there are certain things that get an automatic No - like the "Can I get a tattoo" kind of question...

    Posted by: jjtwo | January 28, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

    Some of these decisions are resource-based, others are safety-based. For example, when my daughter was 5 y.o., we simply didn't have the re$ources for unplanned book purchases. In that case I would probably have phrased things as "that looks like a great title - why don't we go over to the library and request it?". On the other hand, by the time she was 15 y.o., we were in a position to support a computer of her own. A few years ago that might have meant a desktop kept in her room, but with an open door policy. Nowadays the solution would be a laptop - she retains some independence but still hangs out w/ family in the living room. Curtails any out-of-bounds activities.

    Safety issues - I agree that the corner store thing is totally based on your particular neighborhood. Our daughter grew up by and large on military installations and I would have been fine with her walking up there with a buddy.

    There are actually laws about how long a child can be left alone in a home and at what age, at least on federal installations. Same w/ babysitting regs. And don't most states have some sort of no-passenger limitations for new teen drivers?

    I know I'm sounding weirdly restrictive but actually we trusted our daughter a lot and as our confidence in her good judgment grew we got increasingly liberal. She never had a curfew throughout h.s. as she never gave us cause to worry.

    Posted by: novaescapee | January 28, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse

    To me it is just as important to think about WHY you say yes or no. If the reason you are saying yes is because you don't want to hear a screaming fit or you want to win your child's favor, then you should rethink your answer. By being intentional in your parenting,(i.e. having a vision for yourself as a parent and knowing the values you want to instill in your children), you can make the yes- no decisions a bit easier. If you can explain your decision to your child -all the better -it makes it more of a learning experience as well. As for most of the examples --I probably would say no to about 90% of the examples but that is based on the values I believe in and the vision I have for my children. Needless to say, my son thinks I am a Neanderthal mom because I won't let him have a cell phone yet at age 12--so what can I say?

    Posted by: coachjamie | January 28, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

    The suggested scenarios are all over the place chronologically. I learned, with the help of good parenting books and observation at our first-rate cooperative preschool, that the words "No" and "Don't" are best avoided with very young children. As another poster mentioned, distraction works wonders. So does advanced planning. The chips shouldn't be within reach of the five-year-old, but while dinner preparations are made, some sliced vegetables or fruit can be out on the table for anybody who needs to get started eating early.

    Some of the issues with older elementary school kids can be solved using a buddy system. How about two 7-year-olds walking to the store together? How about two 12-year-olds co-babysitting?

    Older children need a lot more of the word "No." They also need to know they do not have an absolute right to privacy. Computers should always be in public areas. Always. Teenagers must understand that anything they post on the Internet or e-mail or IM could just as well be posted on the bulletin board at school or in the Washington Post.

    That being said, I think a lot of Internet paranoia is no more sensible than the kidnapping fantasies promoted by the media and companies trying to sell you something. (Fact: Over 99% of all kidnappings are perpetrated by non-custodial parents or family members or "trusted" friends.) When my 13-year-old was interested in Facebook, I got myself a Facebook page also. I know a lot more about it now and set up his security settings so that only approved friends can see his information. We have rules for use, one of which is that I can log into his account any time. Another is that only people he knows in real life can be friends. Also, "no bad language, no misspelling, and no text message style babytalk." Photos? Sure, if they are photos that they wouldn't mind seeing on the bulletin board at school.

    Posted by: hoganandbligh | January 28, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

    "• 16-year-old's friend just got her license and the two girls want to drive together to a party."

    If "just got her license"="earlier this morning", the answer is no, but the last time my teenager and her friend went to a party, I *insisted* that they carpool together. I thought it was safer that way than them both driving their own car, not to mention more resourceful. In VA, underaged drivers are allowed to have one member in the car outside of family, but that's one of those details that, depending on the makeup of passengers, by following the letter of the law, would actually make the trip more dangerous.

    AB - count me in on the beers.

    Posted by: WhackyWeasel | January 28, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

    Why would a responsible adult have potato chips in a house anyway? Chips are nothing but pure junk food and should be banned from all household with children under 21.

    Posted by: anonthistime | January 28, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

    Why would a responsible adult have potato chips in a house anyway? Chips are nothing but pure junk food and should be banned from all household with children under 21.

    Posted by: anonthistime | January 28, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse


    Carm down, Food Police.

    Posted by: jezebel3 | January 28, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

    I always like to find a way to say yes, or to give choices, so the kid can choose. Of course, never give a choice that you wouldn't say yes if the kid picked.

    2-year-old helping cook - - yes, you can help me cook, why don't you sort the beans over here away from the pot.

    7-year-old asks to walk alone to the corner store - - Yes, you can walk to the store if you take a cellphone, or I am on the porch, or I know I can call the neighbor halfway there to look for you


    9-year-old wants a cellphone - - you can have one if you earn the money to pay for it monthly and use it appropriately, and/or you can have one when you're X.


    4-year-old and 6-year-old bedrooms - - try it out and either can change their mind; yes, if we move to a bigger house, yes if you repaint


    5 year old demanding book - - yes, next time if you ask me nicely; if you ask nicely now we can go to the library.


    12-year-old babysitter - - yes, if you take a babysitting class, yes if I come with you to help you learn.


    13-year-old wants to start a Facebook page - - yes, if I can monitor it.


    15-year-old can't wait to buy and play the latest Grand Theft Auto video game. NOO!


    13-year-old wants her own computer - - if you earn the $$ we can add a second computer in a public place


    Preschoolers fighting over a toy - - yes you can have it tomorrow if you behave well.


    5-year-old grabs potato chips - - you can have fruit now


    At basketball sign-up time - - you made a commitment and you can choose not to play after you finish your commitment


    Etc Etc etc

    There's often a way to avoid the unwanted behavior with a yes - - standing your ground and saying no without more is usually unproductive.

    Posted by: ElaineatLipstickdaily | January 28, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

    No to most, mostly, but it depends on the child. Also, the no has to be reasonable and based on respect for the child. No's that are purely an expression of parental power will backfire big time.
    Example:
    "You're making dinner and your 5-year-old has decided he's hungry NOW. He grabs the potato chips from a cabinet and starts eating."
    1. Confront the child with the rule: never grab a snack without asking permission.
    2. Find out why she's so hungry.
    If the routine is normal, she can wait till dinner's done, just like every day.
    If something is out of the ordinary - she spilled half her lunch on the floor at school, or you're running 45 minutes late with dinner - sympathize and offer a healthy alternative. "Chips are npt a good idea, dear, but I could slice an apple for you, or you can have some carrots".

    Posted by: archaeoman | January 28, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

    "Chips are npt a good idea, dear,


    You would not have to say NO to potato chips if you did NOT have any in the house.

    Posted by: anonthistime | January 28, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

    I always like to find a way to say yes, or to give choices, so the kid can choose.

    Posted by: ElaineatLipstickdaily | January 28, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse


    Sounds like raised you the staffers who don't know how to take orders - oops -follow directions, argue with the boss, and expect constant praise. Thanks a lot.

    Posted by: jezebel3 | January 28, 2009 1:00 PM | Report abuse

    Sounds like you are the person who doesn't know how to give suggestions - oops -make positive comments, only criticize Stacy, blast what others say and want constant attention. Jezebel.

    Posted by: anonthistime | January 28, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

    This is a funny topic. Of course it is individual based on the kid and circumstances. However, when most people say that parents aren't telling their kids no, they're talking about preschoolers with cell phones, the kid that screams at the store and mom just gives in and then PRAISES the child for being bad, and of course the parent that will not spank/time out/deal with a misbehaving child and usually ends up blaming you or your child for their child's bad behavior. This is where no needs to come in. The only thing I want from parents is to bring their heads out of the sand and realize that Muffy is not perfect and needs discipline, not appeasement.

    Posted by: lafilleverte | January 28, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

    I would NEVER, NEVER, NEVER allow a 7 yr old to walk to the store by himself. I wouldn't allow two 7 yr olds to walk either. Too many crazies out there and if you think you're neighborhood is safe then maybe you should look up your neighborhood on the sex offender locator website and be aware of who is actually living down the street. Why would you want to have to ever say, "I wish I had ......?"

    All the other items are things that can be discussed so as to guide your kids and help them make wise decisions. If you're answer is no, then have a good reason why and stick with it. If you're answer is yes with conditions, then stick with that. BEING CONSISTENT IS ALWAYS THE KEY APPROACH.

    However, if things don't work out and your child does not hold up his end of the bargain -- feel free to be even more consistent and enforce the consequences you have dutifully already communicated to your child.

    Posted by: tecatesdream | January 28, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

    No to all of them in our house! We've also added a comment to protests our older daughter (6 1/2) makes when she wants to do something like watch a TV show we don't approve of: "When you grow up, get a job, and get your own place, you can do what you want! Until then, we have the final say!" We've already decided no makeup until the girls are teenagers, the computer stays in the dining room, no TVs or computers in the kids' bedrooms (we got along fine without all that technocrap in our rooms when we were kids, our children can survive that way as well), chores have to be done before play, treats like another book have to be earned, certain clothes are NOT allowed (usually an explanation about self-respect and how you appear to others follows), and if you don't want the healthy nutritious food we keep in the house and only want junk food, then you're not hungry in the first place!

    Posted by: dragondancer1814 | January 28, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

    Sounds like you are the person who doesn't know how to give suggestions - oops -make positive comments, only criticize Stacy, blast what others say and want constant attention. Jezebel.


    Posted by: anonthistime | January 28, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

    Oh, brother. LSM clone again.

    It's the Net, High School Queen Bee. Grow up!

    Do women try to say yes or give choices to men in the bedroom?

    Posted by: jezebel3 | January 28, 2009 1:13 PM | Report abuse

    But here's my complaint about being the NO-MONSTER in our house. I LOVE the idea of offering a "yes" when you say "no", example: no, you can't stir the pasta in boiling water but sure, you can help stir the brownies in the mixing bowl. HOWEVER, I am SOOOOO tired of doing this CONSTANT negotiating that I'm starting to just say NO! to everything, with no "yes" offer, with no explanation, with no apologies. Anyone else tired of the negotiating? Any suggestions to help?

    Posted by: katierosa | January 28, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

    You forgot to say, Every child is an indivdual.

    Posted by: anonthistime | January 28, 2009 1:32 PM | Report abuse

    Katierosa: I'm so with you. My almost 7 YO is such a lawyer. I tell him, no, I'm not discussing this. No we are not arguing about this. No the answer is no. If you keep talking I will take away XYZ. Then I do it.
    You have to find something the kids like...
    like - in our house - it's tv or the wii (my 3 YO is trying to negotiate to use it right now - but the answer is no - if you hadn't done what you did yesterday, then, well, you'd be playing now).
    Or whatever, you start taking stuff away, and they stop talking - eventually. They have to know you mean it. And then when they say: i hate you or whatever, you tell them it's fine.
    You just keep saying no. And you praise them for being good. And you keep praising them for being good.
    But if you don't like the behavior (like negotiating - which, I will say, is a fine skill to have sometimes - so sometimes there are discussions, don't get me wrong) you start to be firm and firmer and more firm.

    Posted by: atlmom1234 | January 28, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

    A lot of it depends on the consequences of 'yes' vs 'no'. Who cares whether your 2 kids share a room? What's the worst that can happen? They try it and hate it and one moves back out. Or they like it, and everyone's happy. But a 7 year old, walking to the store alone - the consequences of that could realistically be very bad. So that's a 'no'. Doing something that's likely to result in stubbing a toe or bumping your head, sure, go ahead. You'll learn for yourself why that is a bad idea. But having the potential to dump a pot of boiling water onto yourself? That's a no.

    And by the way, "no, but.." isn't negotiating in my book because there won't be a change in my offer. And I do explain when I can, because my kids have to learn logic and often, the logic of one situation carries over to another situation. The reason you can't make noise in church (consideration for others) is the same reason you can't make noise in the library or a restaurant or museum.

    Posted by: jaxom | January 28, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

    What most parents don't fully appreciate are the spankings they got when they were children. After being warned and told "NO" so many times the parent finally realized as a last resort a spanking would be in order not to hurt the child physically but to spank that child in front of his or her peer group, as to humiliate them. That has the deepest and longest lasting impression and that child will respect your authority from hence forth. Worked for me and it has worked for all my children.

    Posted by: Sideswiped | January 28, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

    Annenh... you will let your kids go without a shower for several days in the summer because of the time they spend in the swimming pool? I can't even begin to tell you how incredibly nasty that sounds. Worse than just letting them go without showering. The pool is one of the most disgusting places for germs... all I can say is yuck.

    Posted by: lsac | January 28, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

    TO: SIDESWIPED

    I can't tell you how monumentally effective a spanking can be at home or in front of peers. However, it is a last resort and when done correctly and for the right reasons works wonders.

    Posted by: tecatesdream | January 28, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

    anonfornow wrote: You would not have to say NO to potato chips if you did NOT have any in the house.

    You're right, but a blanket ban on potato chips is not the type of parenting that works well with my daughters. My youngest daughter loves chips and gets them maybe three times a month (a small bowl, not a bag). They're a special treat for a special moment, just like candy (all three girls still have over half their halloween candy - and regularly get to eat one piece). There's no limit on fruit and other healthy snacks, and no candy or chips at all unless they've had a fruit-snack already. Result: they enjoy fruit and vegetables, have no cavities, and have bmi's at the low end of the green zone. The mother of my youngest daughter's best friend recently told me that the two girls (8 and 9) had gone to the store to buy apples because my daughter didn't want the snack they had in the house.
    So with my girls this seems to work - but I'd throw away the candy and ban the chips completely the moment things got out of control.

    Posted by: archaeoman | January 29, 2009 1:38 AM | Report abuse

    Hmmmm . . .

    I always like to find a way to say yes, or to give choices, so the kid can choose.

    jezebel3 said:

    Sounds like raised you the staffers who don't know how to take orders - oops -follow directions, argue with the boss, and expect constant praise. Thanks a lot.

    You're right . . . I did not raise the staffers who "just follow orders", who go along to get along, who begrudgingly do what they're told . . . no, I raised the ones who are creative, thoughtful, confident, show initiative, take responsibility, and have a strong incentive to make a contribution.

    Posted by: ElaineatLipstickdaily | January 29, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

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