The other day I picked up my four year old grandson, Tyler, from “Kid’s Planet”, one of the millions of day-care, pre-school, baby sitting centers that are spread out across the country. As Tyler and I were leaving we passed a young mom who was pleading with her three year old, “Please Jessica, Please. Do it for mommy. Please.”
The cute little tyke’s response—“NO, I don’t want to. I don’t want to.”
As Jessica’s refusals rapidly transformed into tears, screams and foot stomping (the kid looked like a promising clogger) mommy pleaded some more, “Oh Jessica, please—do it for mommy. Aren’t we friends?”
I don’t know about you but the last time I had a three year old friend I was three years old. Anyway, Tyler just stared at the unfolding drama and I shook my head and kept on walking not having any idea as to what Jessica did not want and what Mommy did. I really did not care either. What I would like to have seen was mommy say to cute little Jessica “NO!”, pick her up, plop her into her car seat and be on her way. Oh well—.
I don’t get it. Children, especially in their formative years, besides being loved and nurtured, need to be taught that “No” means “No”. They need to learn that they cannot have everything they want and that there are consequences to refusing to cooperate. Developing these qualities requires due diligence from their primary teachers— their parents. They need this so that they may develop a healthy fear and respect for rules, authority, and primarily so that they may have a healthy , social existence as adults. I know some kids can be obstinate and stubborn and drive a parent nuts. But–you are the PARENT, the ADULT. You do NOT beg them to be “good” or promise them a reward if they behave (that drives me crazy–you do not reward bad behavior).
So look, don’t be your child’s friend. Friends are people you can fight and argue with, have fun with, share things with and, if one is lucky, a friend can be a lifelong treasure. Your cutie pie will have his or her share of friends throughout their lives. You are a parent—a unique and profound position you have been blessed with. Along with that position comes the responsibility of saying “NO”. If your little one seems sad or mad or is pouting because they have been told “NO” be glad. It means that you are doing your job and succeeding.