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Parenting without Saying No

By Dallas Stevens

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Parenting is a delicate balance of knowing how to raise your kids with integrity while also preparing them for the real world.

Sometimes this means doing things that seem counter-intuitive to make sure our kids are actually hearing what we are saying and learning from situations.

Something that I learned from teaching and in the first couple of years of parenthood is that opportunities to talk to children without saying no is so important. Now as a mother of two, parenting without saying no, don’t, and stop is an important part of my every single day.

 

Parenting without saying no and creating boundaries for our children with intentional wording. 

Sometimes it’s hard to admit that hearing no is really tough. And in a very real sense, I by no means want my children to grow up without having ever been told no and my kids still hear no on a daily basis. It is absolutely part of life and one I want them to hear.

However, I have drastically cut down on its use in our home by saying no without actually using the word. And in cutting down, it has made use of the word more effective for us. So why would I advocate for adopting the “parenting without saying no” approach?

Very simply… because they listen better.

The way we are hard wired as humans is to listen to the sentence structure. We sometimes hear the first part of a sentence, almost always hear the last part, but rarely hear the middle unless we have our complete attention on the person talking to us. And really, what young child is giving us their undivided attention at all times?

Beyond just the way we hear, it’s also important for all of us to have clear directions. If we are given vague instructions, it leaves a lot of gray area. This is because there are a thousand alternatives to “not” doing something, but only one course of action that should be done when told specifically what to do.

So why would we not want to stop saying no to kids and adopt a system that helps our children listen to us better? Or be more obedient?

Read about and listen to my podcast episode on the power of saying MAYBE.

So how do I remove negative words when talking to my child?

It’s really easy to say no… WAY too easy. So it’s not going to be a cake walk to retrain your mind to ditch negative words and actions like “no”, “stop”, “don’t”, “can’t”, etc. but it is possible. It took me a long time and I am still not perfect. It’s all about practice.

Instead of saying “I can’t talk right now” when I am waiting on hold on the phone and my daughter comes to ask me a question, I say “I am on the phone right now. I can talk to you in a little bit”. I do this because I am focusing on what she is going to hear. If she is not giving me her undivided attention, she may only hear “talk right now”. Instead, I want her to hear “on the phone” and “in a little bit”.

Related: Need help navigating your child’s behaviors?

Likewise, if my daughter is in danger and is too close to the street I am not about to yell “Don’t go in the street!” because I don’t want her to hear the last half of it. I want her to hear “Come here please!” or “Move away from the street!”

Alternatives to saying no & using negative language with kids

There are numerous examples I could give, but thought some of the best were in the image above. We have also replace “don’t touch” with “please keep your hands to yourself”/”please keep your hands in your pockets” (we go to antique stores a lot).

And my husband is working on not using “my ears don’t hear whining” because she has shut down too many times. Instead, we encourage her to use her words and express her emotions in a way that we can understand.

Read more from Parents with Confidence about adapting your parenting style to your child’s needs.

Is it possible to discipline without saying no?

Yes! This has everything to do with the idea of being intentional with our words and giving clear instructions to our children. Using positive phrasing actually has the ability to set clearer boundaries than the word no itself.


Magda Gerber once said “A child who is never told “no” is a neglected child.” And I completely agree, but sometimes it’s also more about how we tell them no, rather than the word itself! We must affirm what our children need to do. Rather than discipline and teach them by telling them what not to do, it’s a lot easier to tell them exactly what we want them to do. In telling a child not to hit, maybe he thinks “Well can I kick?”

When my daughter threw a small wooden ball and it hit me in the forehead instead of saying “NO! Don’t throw that!” I simply said “Ow! That really hurt. Please keep your toys in your hands.”

In the end my parenting has become much more intentional by using negative language and “no” less and coming up with a more positive approach. It makes the power of “no” retain its meaning and has created clear boundaries for my children.

Get the Positive Discipline Cheat Sheet

Need help reframing how you see or respond to situations with your kids? This cheat sheet will help you through some of those tough moments when you want to react with frustration instead of love. The sneak peek is below, but be sure to subscribe to download the full, printable version!

 

 

Watch this response to many of your questions & concerns about reducing negative parenting language.

 

**Edited for Author’s Notes:

 

  • The list provided is simply a visual to help say no less. In fact, that is the thesis of my article. In no way have we ditched the word “no” forever. It’s all about finding alternatives and choices, especially in the hard moments as a parent when nothing is working.
  • Also, the phrasing of “negative language” and “positive language” simply refers to the grammatical English term in that the sentence is or is not negative.
  • For more responses, such as one to the “we will not buy that” alternative, please watch the video. It explains how we say no, divert attention, and create boundaries with our words. Thank you all for your great feedback and responses!

www.roshambobaby.com

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10 Phrases to Help You Develop a Growth Mindset in Parenting

By Dallas Stevens

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One shift in thinking has drastically improved my parenting, and that is moving from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset about being a mom. This growth mindset says – you are always learning and it’s never too late to make a more positive choice. When you make a mistake it’s not an indication that you are doomed to be a failure; it’s an opportunity to grow.

The concept is easy enough to understand, but changing the thinking habits I had wasn’t as simple. One of the interesting things about growth mindset that Carol Dweck states in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, is that we can have a growth mindset about one area of life, but not another – that’s how I was about parenting. I had a growth mindset about things like creativity and academic learning. However, when it came to parenting, I expected myself to be a natural at being a mom.

I felt so awful about making mistakes in parenting. I’d feel so terribly guilty that I could barely make room for more positive, growth oriented thoughts. However, over time I discovered certain phrases that would quiet down the negative judgmental inner voice and allow me to learn instead of getting stuck in a place of depression and hopelessness. Here is a collection of 10 helpful tips about the growth mindset for parents.

If you’d like to be reminded regularly of ways to have a growth mindset, connect with your kids and communicate effectively, make sure you sign up here to get an invite to Bounceback Texts.

10 Phrases to Encourage a Growth Mindset in Parenting

  • Always learning – short and simple, you can think about this phrase to remind yourself that it’s healthy to be in the process of learning, you don’t have to know everything.
  • Connection, not perfection – this is my personal favorite growth mindset phrase for  remembering the priority in my relationships is connection, not getting every detail perfect. It is useful to think when I find myself getting stressed about a family event not going as planned, when I want to support a friend and don’t quite know the right words, or when I find myself waiting for just the right time to talk or play with my kids. Connection, not perfectionnudges me towards what matters most.
  • I’m in tune with my kids and I can make adjustments to our routines when needed. Have you ever felt like a failure when your perfectly worked out routine falls to pieces? It’s helpful to  remember that your job is actually paying attention to this and making a change.
  • This used to work for us (or I thought this would work for us) but I am empowered – I can make a change when things aren’t working. It can be hard to have a growth mindset when something you thought would be perfect for your family….isn’t. We put a lot of store in parenting choices like schooling, breastfeeding, foods we feed our kids, childcare, sleeping arrangements and so on. It’s not to say the way we handle these decision isn’t important, they are. However it is a mistake to believe there is one right way and if you find it everything will be great. Sometimes we have to make a change, and it can be humbling and scary, but holding on to patterns that don’t work for your family is no way to be a leader. Which leads us to another phrase that helps you have a growth mindset about parenting…
  • It takes strength and wisdom to recognize you need to change course, and then take action to make that change. 
  • I made a mistake and I am a big enough person to learn from it and move forward instead of clinging to something that isn’t working. Sometimes it stings to admit we were wrong, but compounding a mistake by clinging to something that isn’t working for you isn’t the answer. Learning from it and moving on is freeing.
  • It’s never too late to make a more positive choice. Sometimes I’ve been caught up thinking that everything is a mess – why bother? This phrase reminds me that making a more positive choice is always an option.
  • I can change directions. I can start over from now. Some days we need a do-over. Permission granted. You can start over from now.
  • I am a work in progress and this is part of that progress. It’s great to have a vision of where you want to be, but sometimes it’s easy to forget that the process of learning and growing has great value. You are someone valuable right now.
  • I always have potential for growth. Yes you do – you are not too old, too broken, too dumb. You have potential for growth. It’s helpful for me to remember I am not stuck being one particular way; through effort and time I can change if I wish.
  • What have I learned from this? Reflecting on what you’ve learned, even from the most uncomfortable situations, helps you grow.
  • Mistakes mean I’m learning. I always loved the song my Dad would sing to me when I was a kid that had a chorus that said, “Oops, you made a mistake, and you’re beautiful to me.

What phrase do you like to say to yourself to help you remember that you don’t have to be perfect?

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7 Tips to Make Flying With Little Ones Less Stressful This Christmas

By Dallas Stevens

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The Most Instagrammable Onesies For Your Sweet Baby

By Gen Cohen

If you can't get enough of the serious baby style* that graces your Instagram feed, we're totally with you. There are a ton of small businesses that make the most precious onesies for babies, which in turn make photos of babies that much more adorable (bet you didn't think that was possible!). We're sharing some of those onesies with you so that your photos can be the ones to pop up on other peoples' feeds to make them say, "Damn, that's a cute baby in a cute onesie."

Scroll through for fun onesies that you'll want your little babe to be wearing during their next iPhone photo shoot.

*Don't forget about mama Instagram style!

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The 9 Moms You'll Meet at the Pool This Summer

By Gen Cohen

 

The one thing these 9 types of pool moms should have in common is caring about sun protection for their children. 

Unless you're one of those lucky moms who live by a beach, odds are, you and your kiddos will spend quite a few days at the pool this Summer. Full of lifeguard-suited teenagers, gangs of splashing kids, and moms jockeying for the best lounge chairs, the pool can make for a totally fun or completely stressful experience, often depending on the age of your kids and your own pool personality. As a mom of a 4-year-old fearless, but not yet competent, swimmer and an 18-month-old wild man, a day at my local pool usually instills more feelings of anxiety than excitement for me. Will my daughter listen when I tell her to stay close? Answer: almost definitely no. Will my son's swim diapers hold up? So far, thankfully, yes. While taking my kids to the pool can certainly be stress-inducing, it's almost always good for some people watching, and I've noticed nine distinct types of pool moms. Which one are you?

  1. The completely overwhelmed mom. She's toting a baby and a toddler, and she's not yet sure whether this trip to the pool was a great idea or the worst one she's ever had. (Her husband advised her to rethink the plan multiple times.) She spends two hours chasing her toddler around the shallow end while her baby tries to pull down her swimsuit top then decides to call it a day.
  2. The golden years mom. She's sitting in a lounge chair, reading the book of the Summer, with not a care in the world, except whether her iced tea might be running low. Her strong-swimming children are quite content playing with their friends all day while she reads, chats with friends, and maybe takes a dip or two. The kids find her when they need money or a snack, she obliges, then they head out again. She's the standard all other moms are trying to reach.
  3. The well-stocked mom. Need sunscreen, swim diapers, goggles, or pool toys? She's got them all, plus cut-up sandwiches, juice boxes, and even an extra towel or two. She puts a lot of thought into packing her extralarge pool bag, and this year, she added a cooler to the mix. Waters and freezer pops for everyone!
  4. The gym-rat mom. She spends nine months of the year Spinning, running, and doing interval training so that she looks amazing in a bikini, and now is her time to show off that body. Feel free to express your jealousy; she doesn't mind at all.
  5. The lifeguard mom. She isn't really interested in getting wet, but she doesn't trust her kids left to their own devices. You'll find her standing sentry on the side. If only the real lifeguards would lend her a whistle.
  6. The sun-worshipping mom. A former tanning-booth devotee, she's here for one reason and one reason only: to get a tan. Like the gym-rat mom, she's probably wearing as little as possible, both in terms of clothing and SPF. By mid-Summer, she'll be almost uncomfortably brown, and she'll love every single tan line.
  7. The sunscreen-wielding mom. This mom believes in applying 50+ SPF as often as possible. You'll often see her chasing around her kids, who are also wearing full-sleeved rash guards, floppy hats, and water shoes, with hands full of lotion. Otherwise, you'll find her safely ensconced under an umbrella.
  8. The deep-end mom. Who says kids should have all the fun? You'll find this mom in line for the slide, playing games in the deep end, and doing laps during adult swim. A former camp counselor and swim-team member, this is the season that she loves most, and she's soaking up every minute.
  9. The time-to-go mom. She's been trying, unsuccessfully, to round up her kids for more than an hour, and really, "It's time to go." But maybe, just maybe, she'll bring them back tomorrow.

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7 Carriers to Make Bike Riding With Tiny Ones Fun For the Whole Family

By Gen Cohen

Before we dive into this awesome list of 7 bike trailers for kids, it's important to remember to protect those baby blues with our kids' rubber sunglasses. They're light, comfortable, and they keep your junior's eyes safe from harmful UV rays!

 

 

Going for a bike ride as a family is a fun and fit bonding activity, but if you have a tiny one who isn't quite riding a bike on their own yet or can't keep up the same pace as older children, it could be difficult to execute. Don't skip the ride or have anyone stay behind — with one of these accessories, you can bring the entire family to the bike trail with ease.

Read on for seven bike accessories that will change your family's bike rides this Spring and Summer.

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We Let Our Baby Cry It Out, and 10 Years Later, This Is What Happened

By Gen Cohen

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Thinking Outside the Box: 10 Ingenious Cardboard Forts

By Gen Cohen

Have you ever wondered why we even bother buying our kids toys when all they really want is the cardboard box to build a fort? Grab your kids, and some scissors, and get ready to make some memories with these creative ideas for cardboard forts.

By Meredith Mortensen. Originally shared on parenting.com

Rugged RV

Calling all outdoor aficionados! Forts like this don't roll into town very often. If the recreational life suits you right, this one-of-a-kind RV fort could be in your future. All you need is a box cutter, duct tape, a paintbrush and some paint. Don't forget the license plate!

 

 

Rocket Ship to the Moon

Blast off with this adorable rocket ship fort, complete with turnable knobs and colorful accessories. Kids will love playing inside and peeking out the window as they pretend they're floating in space.

 

 

Fit for the Farm

Grab your cowboy hat and mozy on down to this barn fort. Painted in an authentic red, barn color and accentuated with a rooster on top, this fort is ready for cowboys and cowgirls of all ages.

 

 

Fit for Royalty

No princess could resist this elaborate castle fort. Its delicate climbing ivy and turrets are enough to impress any royal.

 

 

Grocery Shop Till You Drop

Veggies? Check. Cake? Check. Outdoor grocery store fort? Check. Grocery shopping just got a lot more fun with this genius cardboard fort.

 

 

Super Transformation

Give your little one his very own telephone booth to transform from mere mortal to superhero. You'll only need a box cutter, tape, and some paint to "mask" the cardboard box.

 

 

The Incredible Igloo

This intricate, igloo-inspired fort will take a bit more than a coat of paint to construct. The family at the blog Tales of a Monkey, a Bit, and a Bean used templates and a calculator to make it just so. Then they grabbed their blankets and pillows and cozied up inside.

 

 

Pizza Party

What do kids love more than pizza? Creating pizzeria forts! With a little red paint and some checkered curtains, this restaurant will be open for business.

 

 

Slaying Dragons

Ready to slay some dragons and save the princess? Super Mario Bros. fans can delight in this unique fort. Go ahead, give Luigi a call and get building.

 

 

Gigantic Idea

It's going to take some extra cardboard to create this gigantic fort, but the results will be worth it. Even an architect would be impressed with the modern angles of this cardboard fort tower.

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