Children NEED to Hear No, Here's Why.
Did you notice I used the word “need” in the title on this post? Children don’t just do better if they can accept “no”, nor is it just a good idea, or somewhat helpful – they truly NEED to come to accept refusal. Here's why.
It is common now to see and hear children negotiating with parents, whining for a win, entrenching themselves in entitlement. Sometimes they can be sweet about it, even charming how they persist in wanting something to go their own way. They can chisel away at Mom and Dad as they work diligently at changing “no” to “yes”.
Responding to refusal in an obedient and humble fashion brings order to the home and definitely makes child rearing easier, but it goes deeper than those two big pay-offs. Being able to take NO makes us free. Rules bring freedom. Boundaries bring freedom. Commandments bring freedom.
Let us take the Commandments of God as our model for understanding the need for NO in life. In covenant, The Ten Commandments are God’s holy word to us as people of the Covenant. By following Our Father, trusting and turning to Him, He gives us His guarantee of love, guidance, security, and protection. God knows us as we are – often off the beam, thinking we know what is best for us, sure of ourselves, even when we are off the mark, weak to our flesh, pleasure driven, The Ten Commandments protect us in a very hostile environment. They anchor us to truth. They allow us to be joyfully free when we stay inbounds.
I was recently given an image of a playground set up on the edge of a high cliff. An incredibly well constructed and sturdy wall stood between the cliff edge and the playground. All the children played safely, unafraid…oblivious to the danger on the other side of the wall…blissfully.
Our NO to our children gives them treasure.
- It prepares them for life, forming them in self-discipline, allowing them ultimately to be more flexible as people. Kids need NO to be strong individuals, but able to bend for the good of others.
- Children who can accept refusal with grace are formed in mannerly behaviour. They grow up to be individuals who don’t melt down in the face of challenge or disappointment. Save them from the road rage mentality and grown up temper tantrums we see with such frequency these days.
- We train them up in being well-reasoned and logical. To understand the WHY behind the NO, makes for a person who will temper passions and desires. Kids who understand and accept solid explanations for why something cannot be, tend not to fall into addictions and addictive behaviours.
- We actually grow confidence and feelings of competency in our children when we give them a well formed backbone. Kids that have learned that it doesn’t always go how we want, actually become adults who can handle most things. What makes for someone who can confidently step into situations that are upside-down and a mess, and make them better? It is those who have faced adversity, who become resilient and are not slaves to doubt and pessimism.
- Obedience brings safety and security. Whether they realize it in the moment, children desire parents who honour boundaries and are consistent with rules of behaviour. We all need to know where we stand, who we are as a family. Knowing we are safe and secure, again, makes us free. “You are not allowed because _________________”, makes the earth under our feet nice and firm. We are not afloat, but have our bearing.
A few countering tips in all this merit pointing out:
- Don’t be so strict that you strangle choice. Remember that Our Father in heaven gave us rules, but He also blesses the dignity of decision making within righteous reasoning. Make sure your NOs are important ones – where there is room and good sense to saying YES, allow for it. Parenting that is too rigid, dulls obedience and makes for resentment. I think we know the kind of unreasonableness that is destructive.
- This is not about making robots out of our children, but rather formation that is born out of goodness. That which is truly good, grows us in positive and holy ways. That which needs a NO, also grows us in positive and holy ways. We don’t obey just because we must, but rather because it is something worth obeying, something that will make us better people. When we give refusal, it should be because it is the better and right thing to do.
- Our NO is delivered firmly, but not by shouting or in anger. If we want to teach and form, our NO must instruct and in the end be a blessing to the child. Insist on first time obedience, but give it foundation and relevance to the child.
As I think what an astronaut must feel as he walks in space, he must experience incredible exhilaration, but he must only be able to enjoy that thrill because he knows he is securely attached to his space craft, know cables are bringing him oxygen and life-support, and that he isn’t going to just fly off into the darkness of space. He has such freedom – weightlessness, a stunning view, and independence…and yet, he is bound and limited. Being refused to some extent means life for the astronaut.
Your children need NO….and what a good parent you will be, if in right judgement, you make good NO choices for them.
Need assistance teaching your child to accept No? Learn more about Obedience in my helpful guide on First Time Obedience.