Why Can’t We Tell Our Kids “Yes”?

I get really good at saying no. I can say it kindly, with force, in rapid succession, with anticipation of the question, and even without looking. In my mind, I always have a good reason for telling my son no. I don’t want him to do that, eat those, or bother me at the moment.


I think I should invent an app kind of like the ones that record every step you take so you can see how many miles you incidentally walked in a day. Except this app records every time you say no to your child. On second thought, I don’t think I want to know.

Why is it so hard for me to just say it. Just Say Yes.

I think I know why. I am afraid if I say Yes too much it will ruin my son. Won’t he end up thinking that he can have anything he wants, do everything he wants to do, and never have to wait his turn?

When A Child Needs To Hear No

Of course sometimes we need to tell our children “No”. This goes back to the proper balance of nurture and structure. It’s our responsibility to keep our children safe, to make sure they get good nutrition, and learn to make good choices.

However, what I can learn to do better is how to say No in a way that still nurtures instead of in a way that squelches my son’s spirit, comes across as a punishment, or even causes fear.

I can say “no” with playful interaction, immediate praise for a good response, and with a kind voice and facial expression.

Once again, if my goal is behavior modification and not connection along with a longterm result, then saying no with disregard to how often and how I say it will work fine.

Daddy or Mommy Yes Days

So what are these Daddy and Mommy Yes days?

We decided to offset the amount of times we say no to our son by having, on occasion, a day where we would say yes to any and every reasonable request our son made. These work well when it is a day when one of us is with him most of the day, and we don’t have any set plans.

“Can I watch another TV show?’ “Sure, just one more.”

“Can we go to a park?” “You bet! We will go for a few minutes on our way to the store.”

“Daddy, I want pizza for lunch!” “Sounds good to me!”

“Can you play this game with me?’ “Can we read books?” “Can I have another treat?”

“Yes, yes, and yes.”

After a Daddy yes day, I know why I sometimes say “no” more often than “yes”. It is easier, less time-consuming, and not as exhausting.

It also takes more creativity on my part to think of ways to say yes, especially yes to things I am okay with approving. I will slow my response down a few seconds to ask myself, “Is there any reason I can’t or don’t want to say yes to this request?” If I can’t think of a good reason, then it’s “Yes!”

As you can imagine, our son loves these days! From time to time he asks, “Can today be a Daddy Yes day?” Now how can I say “No” to that cute face!

Two things happen when we have a Daddy Yes day. First, I recognize how I often I say “no” just because. And, my son and I connect more because I enter his world, I hear his requests, I give him voice, and so on.

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I am a longtime Austinite. Married my beautiful wife over 25 years ago. Adopted our son September 2012. Currently a writer and loving it. Previous jobs and careers include project management, missionary, and pastor. I enjoy sports (both watching and playing), traveling, reading, digging in dirt and hanging with my friends and family.

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