‘No, you cannot touch it.’ ‘I said no.’ ‘No, you may not sit there.’
How many times, on an average per day, do you say ‘no’ to your child? And how many times is this ‘no’ parroted back to you by your child?
‘No’ has become a default setting for most millennial parents and grandparents. We want to approve everything the kid does. We want to know ‘why’ they want to do it because it would mean extra work for us. And essentially, kid/s lose out on something they could have learned in the process.
If you, like me, disapprove of mindless screen time, you need to let your child explore – in and out of the house. Let her/him find out what’s in your kitchen, fridge, behind the utensils, inside the cupboard. Yes, they will make a mess. Ask them to clean up or help you clean up afterward, but just let them be. Regulation, you would agree, kills our curiosity in the long run.
I found the lockdown a perfect time to become a ‘yes parent.’ And I saw my child finding ways to kill his boredom on his own while I worked. His creative play was better, and I found myself amused by all of it. I was not ‘free’ to do many things the child wanted me to do with him but that did not mean he could not do it. Yes, you might have your reasons to say no but maybe you can try the following sentences instead:
- You can do it some other time
- We do not have time for this right now
- This is not in our budget
- I know you want to do that but it is too dangerous
- Should we try some other way of doing this?
A child that explores and asks questions would figure out many things on their own with your guidance. A yes from you will help bring more joy from little things for your kid and you; it only will your kid learn to keep him/herself busy but may also stumble upon something s/he really likes doing.
Ananya is a Delhi-based working mother. The strategies listed here have been tested by her personally on her now five-year-old son.
ThinkRight is now available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram