Friday, 2 November 2012

Saying “No” to Sophia

Today I'm delighted to welcome guest-blogger Mike Clayton, whose latest book is a personal take on how to get more done by knowing when to say "YES", when to say "NO" and to so with confidence and style. The Yes/No book 'delivers insights and practical techniques, which enable readers to take control of their decisions, become less stressed, less busy and more productive.' Sounds like essential reading for parents, if you ask me, and in this specially-written piece Mike talks about applying the techniques in his book to our dealings with children. He writes:

Like Tim, I’m a dad.  And of all the challenges we face in saying “no”, saying it to our children can be the hardest.  That is, except for the times when saying “no” to them is all we seem to do: 

“No, you can’t have another portion of ice cream.”

“No, you cannot eat supper in front of Cbeebies.”

“No, you aren’t allowed to colour in the cupboard.”

I have thought long and hard about how to adapt the messages of The Yes/No Book to parents.  There is plenty of relevant material about making choices in your life, about taking on what matters and saying “no” to the rest, so you can do it well, and about how to say “no” with grace and elegance, and not feel guilty.

But when it comes to children, I am at a loss.  Sophia is four.  Four year olds don’t follow the same rules as adults and I am no child psychologist.  So saying “no” effectively to children is outside my expertise.  Like the rest of you, I muddle by.  I get it right sometimes, but I put it down to statistics.
But the sub-title of The Yes/No Book gave me pause: 

“How to do less… and achieve more”.

Most of my arguments with my daughter can be traced to one simple cause: not giving all of my attention to her.  So here is my tip – and it’s not in the book.  When it is time to be with your child, say “no” to anything else.  No distractions: one hundred per cent present with your son or daughter.  Say a massive big “YES” to your time with them and an equally big “NO” to anything else.  No promises, but it may just help.  It is almost as if they know, isn’t it?

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