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Monthly Archives: May 2012

Seven Tips on Saying “NO”

Last week I shared with you our Happy Kid Day. One reason it was so special is because our family saves treats for special times. There was nothing celebratory last week – Happy Kid Day was unexpected, which made it even more special! I realized that if I always gave treats to my children, Happy Kid Day would mean very little. Not giving kids everything really is giving them even more.

Why say No?

  • Sometimes saying NO is the right thing to do. When kids hear YES all the time, the special privileges are mistaken as rights.  Instead of parents setting the pace on what special treats occur when, many parents hand out special treats whenever their kids ask, as if saying no makes them feel guilty.
  • Saying NO to kids on occasion allows them to appreciate it more when they hear YES.
  • Saying NO teaches them to wait for special treats and privileges.
  •  Saying NO is about parents taking back the role of parenting.
  • Saying NO is also about teaching kids life skills such as setting budgets, saving for special things, and giving to others.

I get why we say YES.  We want to give our kids better than what we had – give them more. In doing so, we feel bad anytime we say no to our kids. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with doing it this way, if  the main motivation starts out as one of love. I’ve just seen and talked to many parents who start out doing something out of love and it becomes an expectation. 

Because we live in a society filled with instant gratification, kids are accustomed to getting what they want when they want it. This can lead to problems when they are older. Why wait for marriage? Why not put everything on a credit card? What’s wrong with debt?

Here are my seven tips to saying No:

1. Say it.

2. Stick to it.

3. Show them something better.

4. Set a good example.

5. Sacrifice – a privilege, not a punishment.

6. Second-hand is not second-best.

7. Suspense vs. Instant gratification

As an example, I am going to use this scenario throughout these tips: You are driving by your family’s favorite ice cream shop. The kids know where it is three streets before it’s even visible.  “Mom, it’s hot outside. We need some ice cream!” Do you say YES or NO?

The first four tips are self-explanatory. They are also the hardest. If you don’t say no to your kids, there will be fall-out when you do start saying no. The best advice I can give is to be prepared. If you know it’s going to happen, decide how you will handle it, and stick to your guns.

1. Say no. Some kids don’t hear “No”. For some, when they do, it’s time for an all-out fit. The temper tantrum leads to a weakening of the word no as parents give in – just to end the tantrum. If you can relate, come up with a plan before you say “NO” and …

2. Stick to it. Once you say it, uphold it. NO MATTER WHAT. No more needs to be said.

If you can not do #2, DO NOT MOVE ON. Give yourself some time – and prayer. Keep trying until you succeed. Then come back and continue reading.

3. Show them something better. I have priced things at places like the local ice cream shop, then gone into a grocery store and shown them how many items in the store they can buy instead of in the shop. If you tell a kid they can have a gallon of ice cream for what a cone costs in an ice cream parlor, what do you think they will pick??? Don’t forget the toppings. One scoop of toppings is equal to a whole BAG of that same candy. I did this with bubble gum. Instead of letting kids get a gumball out of a machine, I took a calculator into the store and figured out how much a single gum ball was worth. My kids have NEVER asked for a quarter for the gumball machine since.

4. Set a good example. If you stop at every Starbucks you pass, why wouldn’t your kids want to stop for ice cream? Ice cream is cheaper anyways…

5. Sacrifice. Defined as “to surrender or give up … for the sake of something else.” Many of us have the mind-set that sacrifice is not something we can do. It’s for soldiers or what Christ did for us. Giving up things feels like a punishment. When you think about it, if you actually HAVE something to give up in the first place, you are blessed. If you have enough money to get a coffee out anytime you want it… blessed. If you have enough food in your pantry to eat junk food whenever you want… blessed. If you can go out to eat when you don’t feel like cooking… blessed. You can give things up and sacrifice, because you have it in the first place. You have it. You are blessed. Read the second part of the definition – For the sake of something else. Give your kids a reason to sacrifice – they will amaze you. If you act like a sacrifice is a punishment, that is what your kids will internalize. If you really believe it is a sacrifice – give up for the sake of something else – you will see it as a privilege, and so will your kids. Sacrifice the weekly trips to the ice cream store (or Starbucks) for a month and put the money in a jar. See how much it adds up. Donate the money to a local charity. Sacrifice – a privilege, not a punishment.

6. Second-hand is not second-best. Let’s move away from the ice-cream analogy for this one. Think FADS. My daughter went through a “I HAVE TO HAVE THAT NAME BRAND!!!!” phase. I took her shopping and we looked at the price tags. Our next stop was to a local thrift shop and we did some comparison shopping. For the same name brands, in great condition, but at a resale shop we could get several outfits instead of half of one.  If that doesn’t work so well, tell your kids about fads that were popular when you were young. I’ll just say one phrase “neon parachute pants.” What they think is HOT right now might really look silly a few years down the road.

7. Suspense vs. Instant gratification. Let’s face it. Our society teaches us instant gratification. We carry our smart phones everywhere and can look up info at any moment. Fast food is on every corner. Microwaves zap things instantly. Forget how fast email is… we now have texting and can even talk face to face… or face to computer camera. We don’t know how to wait. The longest things my kids wait for is the Netflix movie returns. I heard of this idea and I LOVE it. It’s on my list of things to do… if I can wait long enough to find time to do it. Movie/game night.  The goal – pick out a movie or game several days to a week ahead of time. Do not tell them what it is, instead place it in a special box where they can not get it. NO PEEKING (peeking results in loss of privilege). See how well your family waits for it. That almost seems cruel, however, it builds anticipation and excitement.

What tips do you have?

Happy Kid Day!

Today I did something unusual. I gave my kids presents – items they don’t need – just because. I saw something they would like that didn’t cost much, so I bought it. On a whim. Because this is an event that doesn’t happen much EVER, they were actually confused.


They just looked at me really strange.

I told them they were awesome kids and I wanted to do something special. Just because I love them so much.

After a meeting about my book that will be published in the next few months, I took them to the mall.

Just because.

Ok…  I did have a really good reason for that – school is getting out next week and I wanted to do something to beat the summer crowds. So we went to the mall.

I hate the mall. I only go to that pit of overpriced commercialism to the mall when I can’t get an item anywhere else and it’s the only place left – with a mission and a grudge.

But today was really nice.

No one asked me for anything. Shocking, I know. You see, since we don’t spend money out on snacks (we bring things from home, go hungry, or stop at a grocery store for reasonable snacks) as a rule, they just don’t ask. They know the answer.

Today is HAPPY KID DAY, so after the quietness of them not asking for things sunk in, I told them they could each have money to spend on snacks wherever they wanted. They went into shock mode. That just doesn’t happen. Unless we are with grandparents!

We walked the mall, ate junk food, window shopped, built lego people, and played with an adorable puppy in the pet store.

I don’t remember when I’ve heard so many Thank You’s. It made all the times I’ve said NO worth it.

I saw my children grateful and appreciative. We built bridges and connected.

I learned how not giving them everything really is giving them even more.

It’s ok to say No to your kids. Promise.  I know that’s not easy for everyone, so next week I am writing tips on doing that. If you have any tips that work for you, or a story about one of your Happy Kid Days, I would love to hear! Tell me about it in a comment!

Eye-Opening Days

Welcome back readers from last week! Are some of you wondering what my week was like a few weeks ago in order to make me jump out of my comfortable chair and into the world of blogging?

Well, there’s no big dramatic story here. It was more like a series of eye-opening experiences. Here are a few:

You never know what the kids you teach (or your kid’s friends) go home to.

I’ve heard statements like this all for as long as… well, as long as I’ve been teaching. As a high school student on Mission Trips with my church, I taught kids who were dirty and unkempt and it was easy to see. In college I student taught and volunteered as a mentor kids in a low-income area, and it was easy to remember because the kids lived in projects and survived off of assistance from the government. But today, I mainly teach kids from an influential part of town, where kids do not go home to druggie parents that can’t afford to feed them, or parents that break the law… or so I thought. Now, I know many of you are calling me naïve right now. And I won’t disagree with you there. I was completely aware of the needs of some kids. I’ve prayed for families that were going through divorce, for parents who had addictions, and with kids who lost a parent to death. So I wasn’t naïve to the hurts kids endure. But I just got comfortable. Let’s just say – my eyes were opened and my heart broke with what I saw. Some parents don’t maintain their bridges, they hack away at them with a chainsaw! This blog is not always going to be a nice, cozy parenting blog. I will tackle hard topics. Life is hard. Life is even harder if your bridges are crumbling around you.

Some parents just don’t know what to do.

It was time to renew my license and I couldn’t do it on-line. While waiting in the DPS office for HOURS (four to be exact) I saw lots of different people. One family in particular stood out. I try to not judge other people’s parenting. I don’t want to judge, I want to help. And anytime I judge, rest assured that as soon as I do, I will fail miserably in some parenting aspect. But on this day… seeing a mom back-hand a three-year-old, push, pull, and hit them repeatedly, I do get a little judgey. Especially after realizing you never know what goes on at home. As I cringed (along with everyone nearby) while this mom kept “disciplining” her 3 and five-year old daughters, I decided to take action. No, I didn’t report this mom or give her a piece of my mind, I went to my car and found a children’s book. Sitting on the floor of the DPS office, I read to these girls. As the hours stretched on, if they did something while in my “area” I corrected in a firm, yet loving way. Please do not pull on that sign, look at this instead. Can you whisper? Gentle hands. Please put your dress down. At one point, the receptionist came over demanding to know who the kids belonged to. When the lady next to me, who had recently arrived in the crowed waiting area, heard they weren’t mine, she was shocked. Another time I heard the comments, she must be a teacher! I could’ve minded my own business and read or surfed facebook. Why did I spend my time there talking to the little girls? The whole time I was praying the mom would hear how effective it was to ask and speak nicely instead of slapping at or insulting the kids. I tried not to judge the mom, but show her a different way. Ultimately, I just wanted to be a bright spot in the day of two sad-faced little girls. Lesson learned on that day: Sometimes parents just don’t know what to do… or they don’t care. It’s not for me to judge, but if I can be a bright spot, I want to shine! That’s another thing I want this blog to be – a bright spot for an overwhelmed parent.

Moms always question what they are doing!

A few days later, I was in the orthodontist office. I overheard the conversation of several women. They were questioning their parenting strategies. I won’t get into the exact details, but it reminded me of a lesson I learned early in my role as a mom. We question what we do. There are things we are just not sure about – ways we feel inadequate. Sitting in MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers) as a new mom, I was surprised that I was not the only who looked at everything I did, questioned things, and doubted myself. Moms do question themselves. They want a place to ask questions, be heard, and get advice. I want this blog to be that place. A place parents can feel a partnership with as we all build bridges to connect with our kids.

I’ve been throwing around the idea of putting a blog out there for some time now. As I sit here sipping my coffee and thinking about the last few days, I realize today is the day. You might have questions about this blog, so I’ve tried to answer some. Since I’m not a mind reader, if I didn’t answer your question, please leave it for me in the comments section and I will get back to you. If for some reason I don’t it’s only because I am not a pro at this type of thing. Be patient with me and I’ll be patient with you – we all need someone to show us a bit of patience!

Why do you want to start a blog?

It’s really simple: I just want to make a difference.

What will this blog be about?

Bridging families together.

Huh? What does that mean?

Read about it on my Building Bridges page.

Since you have older posts, it looks like you posted on here before. If you just started, why are there older posts?

Ok… you caught me. I wanted to see if I could actually do this, but wasn’t ready to “put myself out there” yet. I’m ready now. Read through some of the older ones. They’re pretty good!

I happened on your blog randomly. Who are you?

Glad you are here! Find out about me on the I am… page.

So, what were these “last few days” you’ve had? And why would they make you want to do a blog?

That’s a really good question! Come back NEXT week and I’ll tell you ALLLLL about it!

Until then, Hug your family today and look for ways to build a bridge!

Wait! How do I build a bridge?

You’ll find out along this journey. Building bridges is all about connecting. How do you connect with your family? Here’s a tip: disconnect from technology and reconnect with your kids. I’ll talk more about that later…

Remember, if you still have questions for me, write them in the comment section!

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