Remember the “just say no” campaign directed at teenagers? It was about saying no to drugs. That
campaign was useless for kids who had already lived through their “terrible two’s” being punished over and over again for saying no.
Does this mean we should just let kids do anything they want to at no-saying ages (usually two to three, early school-age, and early teens)? Absolutely not. But, it does mean that we can insist on their doing what they are told while still understanding that they are beginning to think for themselves and showing respect for the fact that they have their own ideas.
We can allow the no “saying,” but not the no “doing.”
We can tell them we will let them complain, but they still have to do what they are told. And, if tantrums are part of the reaction on their part, we can tell them we won’t let them hurt people or things while they are mad and frustrated. For young children, we can use our friendly muscles to hold them or move them in order to protect them and insist they do things like get out of a car or go in or out of a store. For older children, we can check our own anger at the door. We can hear listen to their ideas and feelings. We can stick to the rules and consequences that were put in place to protect them and do so in a matter-of-fact, unemotional way.