Monday, August 11, 2014

Yes, We Can!

Recently I have been thinking about the influence this positive phrase can have and the power of “Yes” as it applies to all aspects of our lives. This is particularly relevant when it comes to parenting. 

As discussed in a previous blog (see “Parenting Five Common Mistakes” at ), “we say no 100 times a day and I can almost guarantee that 75% of those NO’s could be YES’s.”

“Don’t jump on the couch”, “No, you can’t have ice cream”, “No more TV, it is time to go to bed”, “No more cookies.” And the list goes on and on.

Who likes to be told “No”? Being told “No” frustrates your child and can instigate bad behaviors, such as crying, screaming, hitting, throwing things, etc., which can be very problematic, especially when in public. Have you ever seen a child throwing a tantrum in the grocery store or at church? Children don’t need to read blogs to know how to make our lives difficult. If we rephrase our response to a more positive alternative and redirect the child instead of just saying “No”, we can reduce the child’s frustration and prevent “behavior disasters.”

Instead of saying just NO, what he CAN’T do, tell the child what he CAN do. Some examples can be:

“Can I have a cookie mom?” Instead of immediately saying no, you can say “Yes, you can have a cookie when you finish your dinner”.

“I want to play outside.” Try “It’s too cold right now but we CAN play blocks or dance inside”. It is very effective to offer two “Yes” for every “No.”       

“It seems you want to jump, let’s go to the trampoline.”

By the way, when you say “NO” to your child, you are teaching him/her to say “NO” to you when you place a request on him/her. So, save the NO’s for when it is necessary. If you child is running to the street or playing with a knife, that’s a NO.

Making positive behavioral changes is crucial to behavior management. Try the “Yes We Can” approach and see what a difference it will make in your child’s behavior. 

 Learn how to behave so your child will too.


Daniel Adatto, BCBA





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