EPIC Blog: Saying Yes - 4KIDS
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EPIC Blog: Saying Yes

September 14th, 2020 l Author: Holly Fregin, MS

One great way that parents can build trust and relationship with their kids is by finding more ways to say “yes.” For me, it feels like most days the answer to any question my child asks me is “no.” I might not even stop to think about what is being asked – it’s just easier or more convenient for me to say no in that moment. Can you relate?

Imagine if next time this scenario happened to you and me, we paused for a moment before responding. Is there is a way to say yes to what our child is requesting?

My daughter loves to help me cook in the kitchen. Oftentimes, I find myself saying no because I’m in a hurry and it creates more of a mess to clean up after— but what if the next time she asks me to help me cook dinner, I stop and see this moment as an opportunity to connect with her and build trust?

By looking for a way to say “yes” before saying “no,” my daughter feels heard, valued and loved. Though it may take a bit longer for me to clean up afterwards, through cooking we have a chance to strengthen our relationship.

I know what you’re thinking— “But what if I say yes all the time, won’t that make accepting a no so much harder for my kids?” Studies have actually found that saying yes more often (when it’s a healthy and safe option to do so) strengthens your relationship with your kids so that when you have to say no, they can better trust you and accept that answer.

Of course, there are times when saying yes may not be an option and may not be in your child’s best interest. Limit setting is important to keep our kids healthy and safe. To avoid their disappointment ahead of time, try explaining to them– “I want to say yes as much as I can because it brings me so much joy and I will always look for ways to do that, but when I need to say no, I need you to trust me and accept that no.”

Application Activity: Create a “Yes” Basket

A “Yes” basket is a tool you can use to communicate care and safety to your kids. Since food can be a trigger for kids that have experienced trauma, fill a basket up with healthy snacks available whenever they need them. When they ask for a snack from the basket, make sure your answer is always “yes.”

This helps support connection and trust with you, and also helps them practice using their words to get their needs met.

If limits are needed (i.e. it’s the third time they’ve asked, it’s right before dinner or right at bedtime, etc.) here’s how to set them:
– Start by switching your “no” with a “yes”
– Set a limit
– Give an alternative

For example, you can say to your child, “Yes, you can have that snack. We’re about to eat dinner so you can put it in your pocket or on the table next to you and as soon as dinner is done, you may eat it.”

Bonus: You can even take this basket a step further and add additional items to it such as activities you can do together. Have each family member write an activity they’d like to do on a small piece of paper, add it to the basket and take turns drawing one out every weekend!