It’s almost nine on a Monday night and I have nothing written for tomorrow, which is Tuesday and I blog on Tuesdays.
But I do have some thoughts about that one little word, and how frequently that I (and I suspect many of you) use, overuse, misuse and abuse it.
NO WAY you say (which is probably a lie, or an excuse). It may annoy you, but I suggest you start the counter on that one word today. Even for an hour or two – see how lots of little NO’s add up. It may shock you.
Studies have reported that the average toddler hears the word NO an astonishing 400 times a day!
And we wonder why they throw it back at us with such regularity when we ask them to eat their dinner, go to bed, or whether they could possibly please NOT squish half a banana down in between the cushions of the lounge chair.
That little negative word sure has been getting some use in my household lately. At 3.5 years, Little Yang is going through an attention seeking phase (or maybe that’s since we adopted him) and the other afternoon he walked outside and simply decided to pee on the pavers. Deliberately, brazenly, to make some kind of statement that he could do as he pleased and NO-one could stop him.
Now I could (should) be grateful he walked outside. Instead I shut (locked) the sliding glass door and left him out there, bawling to get back inside (he could see me inside watching him, but I wasn’t going to let him in until he’d learned his lesson or until his father arrived home – he was due any minute). I stayed strong.
I felt a bit bad, but I think the course of action was far more effective than the few exacerbated NO’s I’d let loose at him at first.
Well I was rather proud of my punishment until the next morning when Little Yang shoved two full toilet rolls down the toilet, and proceeded to flush a few times until the water overflowed all over the bathroom, complete with his floating poo. And Mr Yang was not due home from nightshift for half an hour – NO!!!
This time I grabbed him by the arm (just a little) hard and led him to his big sister, all the while glaring and glowering at him, before proceeding to clean up. He got the message, if the ‘Sorry Mummy’ is anything to go by.
‘YES mate – that was naughty wasn’t it? Toilet rolls aren’t supposed to go into the toilet like that,” was my reply which positively reinforced his own remorse because for once in a while I was agreeing with him. YES!
‘NO’ starts to mean so little when it is said too much. And saying it so often means it simply becomes a habit for our kids to say it too. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and we want our kids to love us (and be sincere)!
So I’m starting to count the numbers of NO’s I let slip, because I KNOW I need to change. I better get out a calculator.
I figure the counting part will make me stop and think before I blurt and perhaps then I’ll find alternatives like: ‘in our house we do this, instead of that’, because the meaning of NO still often needs to be conveyed.
I’m trying substitutes like, ‘I know you want that now, but if you wait you can have it later’ – the negative news, with the positive chaser option when compared to a garden variety retort ‘NO’.
(For more ways to say NO without saying no try this post).
I call it creative negativity, when you add in the positive to express the negative better – (very yin yang)!
And I’m trying to use the psychology on myself – saying yes more often, at least when it comes to going after what I want when I would normally deny myself, and trying to suspend the negative judgements that come with NO and NOT (like NO good, or NOT slim enough).
Of course sometimes we can overdo the YES’s – agreeing to do things we don’t really have time for or giving in when we really should stand our ground. Yes is not always the right answer, I just reckon that it’s right more often than NO.
And I reckon the less I find myself (unjustifiably) saying NO to myself, the less I might inflict it on my children, because negativity breeds negativity.
The other option is to use the word NO positively, as Australian’s just love to do with our language – no worries mate, no problems love, no joke.
No more – it’s now almost 10pm and I’m as good as done.
Good luck with your counting, and I’ll let you know how I go.
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Come on – you can’t say NO!