Between the three of them, my kids ask for something on average about every :17.4 seconds. Many times there are simultaneous requests made that have nothing to do with each other. There are just so MANY. “Dad I need this,” “Dad can I do that?,” “Dad, have you seen my goldfish?” To that point, the word “Dad” is verbalized no fewer than 48 times an hour or roughly 600 times a day. I’ve often said the three of them can be like needy little piranha. Because of this fact, as a dad (or mom for that matter), you know how easily the word “NO” flows from your mouth. To the point that sometimes it slips out before the question is even asked. “Dad can I … ” NO!
The problem is, that mixed within the ridiculous requests of, “Dad can I take the dog in the shower with me,” “Dad can I have a pet lobster?,” “Dad can I buy this $350 pair of disposable socks?” are legitimate requests and / or desires that deserve some serious consideration. The trick is figuring out what the motivation of a request is and when to stop and mentally wrap your head around it.
For me, there are a couple of ways of accomplishing this.
1. When possible have them wait a week. This eliminates about 40-50 percent of the requests as they usually either forget about it, lose interest or recognize that the friend who instigated the “need” has gone another route and rendering it no longer cool and therefore a waste of time and energy for all parties. If after a week it’s still something they deem important, it probably deserves a second look.
2. Suggest they will need to clean up any mess made by what they’re asking to do before they get computer or TV time. This eliminates another 25 percent.
3. Logistics and reality will usually eliminate another 15-20 percent and require an actual flat out “no” which may create some drama. But you have to have some fun am I right?
As mentioned, lost in there are another 5-10 percent of requests that likely have some weight. And our first inclination is to take a look at history and devalue the request based on what we’ve seen in the past. And
there’s truth to that. How many times have you heard yourself say, “Do you remember the last time?” or “I’m still paying for the last time.” or “Yeah, that’s not happening again.” Still, they’ll offer to do the dishes, clean toilets, mow the lawn, get off of their little brother, anything to have a chance to take part in this once in a lifetime opportunity that happens every Friday at 7 p.m.
So how do you know when something deserves the yes? Well. Maybe if they get themselves up and ready at 5:30 in the morning for an event that’s not shopping related. Or after two weeks it’s still something they’re interested in. Or maybe you just need to ask yourself if you’re saying no just out of habit. Or it’s a power struggle. “How many times have I told you, no, no, NO!” Are you digging in your heals to make a point about who’s in charge? Sometimes it’s worth putting ego and history aside and considering the benefits of saying yes.
The word “no.” Such an easy answer. Eliminates so much responsibility and time management. But at some point the no’s also eliminate opportunity to acknowledge your child’s self worth. And honestly, the word “No” can be nothing but a dead end that gets you nowhere with your child. Sometimes saying yes to something you completely don’t understand or consider a complete waste of energy, is actually an opportunity to bond with your child in a way you never dreamed. It’s a chance to teach them what can happen when you open your mind to the possibilities of what can happen when you say yes to the world and step outside of your comfort zone once in a while. Just letting them know, that sometimes you simply have their back is worth an occasional …