Kids can naturally find it challenging to learn how to say ‘no’ because they are not in control of their environment, others are. Their world becomes a list of steps or sequences of activities that flow from one to the next. Yet, Others are in control of their location. As an infant, I am where I am positioned because someone put me here. As a toddler, I can crawl or walk as far and in as many directions as you allow me based on kiddie proof gates and the floor plan of our home. I don’t want to eat what you are giving me, I like or want that.
When does no become anger?
When does no become a scream?
When does no become about needing to have some control?
Illness may play a large part in this for kids who are unable to communicate the details about what is going on for them internally to those around them to help prevent being or feeling forced into doing things that make them feel unwell or angry because of the impact on them.
It is often appropriate to have conversations about the size of the no response. Is it a big no? A medium no? or a little no? Or is it an absolutely never.
Learning ‘how’ to say no involves complex conversations with yourself to understand what you want and need for your own self care and growth. Knowing this is an everyday assessment. An everyday decision about what you want out of life, what is making you happy and what isn’t. Who it is that is enjoyable to interact with and who isn’t. Adding up those yes’s and adding up those no’s helps you decide which direction you want to go in. Being able to make a choice in saying yes can also be as important as learning to say no. That insight into what you want or need as a person and being able to see it being offered to you and being able to say yes. Having something offered to you. Knowing the measurement of the value of the different types of yes’s. Helps you know easily how to say no and how to not let anyone else force you into doing something that you don’t want to do. Knowing the value of good activities, of good interactions may have come from saying no to lots of things. This knowledge then reinforces what it is like to know how to wait for something.