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  • Mama Care III: Saying Yes to Our Children to Elicit Cooperation

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    Your YES is music to your child’s ears.

    I know that you probably raised an eyebrow reading the title of this post. Wouldn’t saying yes to your kids raise matigas na ulo (hard-headed), spoiled kids?

    But, I’m the boss of this household and my say is the one that stands, you might add.

    If you hear yourself constantly reminding your kids that they’re not the boss of you or that they’re going to do something because you told them so,

    Give yourself some grace.

    Regularly battling with why you need to be listened to can make days longer than they should. You deserve to feel honored and respected in your household and it doesn’t have to be this hard.

    Why Say Yes

    In the olden days, kids were seen but not heard as if a wall, existing but separated from anything that resembles a meaningful interaction with an adult.

    Today, we know so much more from bodies of research that children’s brain grow rapidly from infancy through early adulthood. What does this mean? This means children’s environment especially the attachments they form with their caregivers influence their brain development, and unbelievable early, the way they perceive the world.

    I know when I was growing up, I constantly hear adults complain about their kids when they’re an arm’s away. Sometimes they lower their tone into a whisper when the target of their chit-chat (a.k.a. tsismis) walked by or shows suspicion in their expression on why they keep overhearing a story they’re way too familiar with.

    I know older kids do this more but it’s amazing how toddlers behave differently when they know attention is on them or otherwise.

    Children’s brains are wired to seek approval, to want to feel seen and heard. These walls have ears and more!

    How to Say Yes

    There’s a simple rule for this when it comes to toddlers, No Means Go!

    So, I can’t say, No?

    See, even you had resistance to my No. (lol).

    This is not a toddler thing. it’s human.

    It’s not practical and wise to advise that parents never utter the word No. Children need to learn their limits and saying No is how we teach them.


    The difference is how we say it and how often we say it.

    If you had a boss who pointed out what you should do better after you present him your best work thus far, how motivated are you to work on these improvements?

    If you’re embarking on a special project and before you even began, your boss reminds you on pitfalls you’ve had in the past without calling out your strengths first- what a downer!

    If you ran a 13.1 marathon, and were told you won’t get your finisher gift ( special gift you get when you complete a run) coz you walked the last 2 miles of it but was not told in the beginning of this rule- Uughh, throw the towel!

    These are adult, real-life scenarios but they can easily be replaced with a child’s experience in the home or in the playground.

    When we tell our children…

    No so many times without giving them an alternative way of doing things.

    Focusing on what they shouldn’t be doing rather than what is expected of them.

    Laying out all the possibilities of a disaster rather than of possibilities to create and problem-solve.

    When we lack clarity and consistency and punish mishaps too quickly.

    We have all done this and the wonderful thing about parenting is you can reset the next day. Dust yourself off and try again is our mantra here.

    If you’re boss treated you this way, you’ve probably packed your stuff and peace out. Good thing, our children have resilient hearts and have the intrinsic need to be connected to you.

    When I used to be a therapist for abused children in foster care, I’m astounded how abused children by their parents continue to long them despite the trauma they’ve repeatedly gone through in the hands of the very people who were supposed to nurture them. I didn’t share this to traumatize you but to let you know that this parenting thing is quite special, and that our children cannot wait for your evolution so you can make them feel good enough in this world.

    There’s a lot of work around this so please don’t feel overwhelmed, just start somewhere, Mama.

    In today’s post, we’ll start by simply learning how to change the language we use with our children. Although my example may sound like it’s only for younger kids, it’s not. Remember the boss scenario? Lessons learned from here can be translated to older kids and even to adults.

    Tips on How to Say Yes

    I follow the simple rule of 1 Nos to 2 Yesses.

    How does this work?

    Basically, if your child wants an ice cream, you say-

    Not right now but you can have an apple or a granola bar.

    The two options are apple and banana. You want the alternative to be something that your child does not hate. If you know your child hates eating fruit loops, you wouldn’t offer this as an alternative. It doesn’t have to be as equally on par as the ice cream though because giving them the option to choose is what makes this effective.

    You can use this technique even with the most outrageous behaviors, like kicking the door. You can tell your child,

    You might not kick the door like that but you can do this (demonstrating a very soft-like kick) or knocking on the door. This is ok.

    I love this technique because it works for most situations.

    It doesn’t work, if you speak in an angry tone with your child and sounds like you’re challenging them. Speak clearly and calmly and they will honor your command.

    Your YES=Your child’s COOPERATION

    Another way to say No with a time limit. This is very effective for children of all ages.

    For example, if your child drops a toy while you’re driving and asks, “ Mommy, I need my toy right now.” If you reply, I can’t do it. I’m driving,” you are usually met with more cries, louder and more annoying.

    Try this-

    I can help you in 15 minutes. To stretch a child’s tolerance to wait, I give landmarks if the road seem familiar to the child or do a count-down. Like this-

    I have 14 minutes to help you. Boy, I can’t wait to pick up that toy for you….I have 10 minutes to help you, I’m sure Mr. Bear does not mind getting some alone time…I have 5 minutes to help you, almost there.

    You don’t always have to do a count-down, the first statement of giving a end-time to your no (I’ll help you in 10 minutes) does the trick.

    Another way to say Yes to children is to provide them with reassurance for their emotional needs. When young children whine and cry for attention, simply assure them-

    I know you need mommy/daddy. Whining is like ear plugs in my ear. I can’t hear you when you’re talking like that. Use your words so I can hear you. I’m here to get your needs met. There’s no need to worry.

    For older kids who may be in a loop of power struggle with their parents, this type of talking works too. Interpreting their emotional needs rather than their mis-behavior can assist a great deal in reducing this conflict

    How would you see your child differently when you see them as needing help regulating their feelings rather than pushing your buttons?

    Say Yes to Yourself

    Parenting is a science and an art. We all have our ups and downs in this arena. To learn to say Yes to your children kindly, you must practice it with yourself.

    Here’s your homework. practice saying these:

    I say Yes to making parenting mistakes, moving on from it and doing better the very next opportunity.

    I say Yes to saying I’m overwhelmed and I need a break on some days. I find that the best parents are those that practice compassion to the human side of them.

    I say Yes to accepting my own apology for what I failed to do in the past. Now that I know better, I will do better.

    I say Yes to being open-minded with parenting, I evolve as my children grow.

    I say yes to my own growth, embracing my discomfort brings me closer to mastering a skill.

    Thank you for saying Yes to me by reading this post.

    As always, thanks for stopping by! If this was helpful, please show me some love by sharing with others.

    Sa uulitin,

    About Roanne

    Roanne has been a Psychotherapist for more than 12 years. She has frequented at least 400 Filipino homes and counting. She is the author of the Ebook: 5 Pinoy Love Languages and the creator of the presentation entitled: Filipino Core Values & Considerations in Culturally Responsive Care.

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    1. […] this is the fourth part of the series-Mama Care. If you missed the last one ( Saying Yes to Our Children to Elicit Cooperation), click here. […]

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