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There Is "No" Business Like Parenting

Did you know kids hear the word “no” a staggering 400 times per day.

No? You didn’t? Then think about that: 400 times per day. 2,800 times per week*. More than 11,000 times per month. Per year that comes to 132,000 times.

That is a bunch. A soul crushing amount of rejection, even for a group of individuals deliberately challenging authority and seeking to locate the outer bounds of permissible behavior.

No wonder parents often feel like they are constantly at odds with their kids.

I’d like – love – to think we are a little different. We try to keep the “no” to a minimum. Now, before you go get your spouse so you can mock this crazy guy on the internet who sets no rules for his kids and is bound to raise delinquents, hear me out.

We might well be hippies raising future delinquents; or drones raising management material. As with all things, how you view yourself and how you actually act can be eye opening, but stick with me.

You see, rather than say “no,” we try to redirect. In the toy isle, its not “no,” its “you can have that when you have saved up enough money." At snack time, we don’t say “no, you can’t have Cheesy Poofs;” instead, its “you can have apples or fruit.” At bed time it isn't "no, we can't play that;" instead its "maybe we can play it once." To which they always ask for three, or five. But that is just a chance to negotiate to two, which I was always going to do anyway. Always better to under promise and over deliver, as I say.

Can they go to Jumpy Jumpy today, they wonder? Of course they can't. First, its Sunday, secondly, its 8 p.m. Rather than simply shoot them down though, I'll suggest that maybe Wednesday would be better. Yeah, that is the plan. Let's go Wednesday. Suddenly a potentially sad situation is a future to look forward to!

The difference is slight, I admit, but I think it really truly helps. First, we are really denying our kids anything. We are simply moving the goal posts a bit. Redirecting. Teachers do it all the time. Redirecting is a time proven method of avoiding conflict.

Its also a great management technique for everyday life.

Who at their job likes to be told “no”? Really, no one likes to be told no.

But if you offer an alternative, you can usually arrive at an answer that makes both parties feel happy with the outcome. That is all we are really doing.

The question is, is it a hippie-dippy move, or an upper management jujitsu-type move.

* Want to see just how weighty the word "no" looks typed 11,000 times in a row? Well, how about 2,800 times?** Sure you do. So here it is. This is what your kid hears every week:


**See what I did there?


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