Why Not?


Persis20120704_175353tent and repetitive questions from our children can often result with the default answer of ‘no’ from us, their parents. Well that’s often the way it is in my house! ‘no, you can’t watch just one more cartoon!’, ‘no, I am not buying you sweets!’ or ‘no, we are not going to the playground!’ It gets to the stage where I feel like I am saying ‘no’ all the time! In fact, I have been known to say no before the question is even asked. ‘Mum, can I go upstairs to…?’ ‘No!!’

         I am fully aware that the more we say ‘no’ to our children, the more we are inhibiting their ability to open themselves up to new experiences, and more importantly to learn from them. Negativity breeds negativity. An instant ‘no’ limits the opportunity for conversation. When I looked at it like this, I felt absolutely terrible about my over-use of the word ‘no’, but then again I wasn’t about to become a yes woman either!!

So here is my compromise. If ‘no’, ask yourself ‘why not?’

        I always used to ask ‘why not’ when I worked in creches, not only because the places were set up to cater to the children in the first place, but also because I wanted them to have as positive an experience as possible during their stay with us. It helped that when I was at work I was on their time. So why not do what they requested or suggested? (within reason obviously!) ‘Why not?’ quickly dropped by the way-side when I became a full-time, stay-at-home Mum though. Nowadays, there is no time that is mine or theirs; it is all shared time. More often than not, I am busy doing something when the ‘can I?’ questions start. It is quicker and easier to simply say ‘no’, but it is not necessarily the right thing to do.

         Now asking yourself ‘why not?’ does not necessarily mean saying ‘yes’ – it means genuinely asking why not? If instead of ‘no’ you ask yourself ‘why not?’, and the answer is still no, then that’s that. However, if you ask ‘why not?’ and don’t have a genuine reason for an outright refusal, then you have the opportunity, if you choose, to say ‘yes’.

Here are a few examples that I have experienced recently that would automatically have been no before.

        I try to get the kids to school a good few minutes before the class lines march in,so that I can say goodbye properly to both children. Otherwise it’s a case of ‘go on, quick! Your line has gone!’ which has happened on more than a few occasions. On this particular day, my eldest asked me, just moments before rushing out the door to school, if I would tie her hair up in a plait instead of the usual quick ponytail. My instinct was to say ‘no’ but I thought to myself – it may take an extra minute but it will bring her so much pleasure, and we will still make the line. So I agreed and rather than a grumpy, negative school run, she bounced along the whole way delighted with her Disney hair-do.

        Another recent example was during the Easter holidays when the children were watching television after breakfast – not something they get to do during term time, so a real treat. I usually only let them watch television for an hour at a time. So when my son asked towards the end of the hour if they could watch the cartoon that was coming on next, I thought ‘why not?’ – we are going to be out and about a lot over the holidays, and what harm is one extra cartoon really going to do? Well the reaction to the resulting ‘yes’ was as if I had promised to buy them a field full of ponies!!

        Sometimes the answer is still no however, and as I said earlier, I am not about to become a ‘yes woman’. Last Monday, about an hour after their last chocolate frenzy and about an hour and a half before dinner, I got the ‘I’m hungry, pleeeeassse can I have a snack?’ ‘Why not? Because there is no way dinner will be eaten later. This was a definite ‘no’.

         Also, the children both wanted to wash the car with me over the Easter holidays. Yesterday as I was changing the baby/putting on a wash and deciding on dinner I was asked, ‘can we wash the car now?’ ‘Why not?’ I thought. ‘Because I’m up to my eyeballs and am going to have a cuppa the first opportunity I get’. So the answer was ‘No, I am too busy but we can do it tomorrow during Siofra’s nap.’ We just finished it, and the car looks great! 🙂

        All in all, I am finding ‘why not?’ to be one of the most useful tools to opening up communication and steering me away from creating a negative environment. Sure why not give it a go? I bet you will be delighted with the results.

Thanks for reading


 I love feedback, please leave any thoughts and comments below.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. BabySteps
    Apr 05, 2015 @ 11:32:03

    Reblogged this on BabySteps and commented:

    From the archives. Trying to avoid saying ‘no’ all the time!


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