Learn to say NO – Part 2


September 15, 2012

The importance of punishment

Using sanctions for the reinforcement of a 'no' may not be effective in all children. Each parent has to find a punishment that is most suitable for his own child, knowing that the important thing is not the punishment itself, but what is communicated through it.

Asha Phillips, a psychotherapist who has studied the subject, has said, "You don't need an army to kill an ant," i.e. the punishment must be proportionate to the mischief and should not lean towards excesses. It is also not necessary to explain in detail the reason that led you to say no.

Instead, choose to show your child that you are certain that this is the best choice for him. Some parents run out of explanations and want to apologise to children just because they have dared to say no at any given time.

These parents are not fully convinced that they are acting appropriately, which ultimately transmits to the child and makes him insecure.

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Learn how to deal with frustration

When you say no to the child, it often translates into disgust for the predicament imposed. Your child may feel frustrated, but everything is temporary and teaches him how to deal with frustration, which is fundamental for adulthood.

Ever thought of how many times you feel frustrated during the day? It could be your work, friends who were to call and didn't, and so many other things.

With time, you develop defence mechanisms that allow you to get over these unpleasant moments.

This ability develops at a young age and 'no' is one of the factors contributing to this growth. This does not mean that you should constantly be alert and control the child's movement, because he needs to do things by himself. This is so you can assess his limitations and work on them or accept them.

During this exploration of limits and acceptance of frustration, children learn that tasks can be performed more easily if you have help from another person, which leads to developing humility, a personality characteristic that we all appreciate in others.

If they are disciplined and at the same time allowed freedom, they can grow into mature, well-adjusted adults who are autonomous and self-reliant.

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Impose restrictions

Your child will feel much safer if you let him know how far he can go. From the perspective of a child, restrictions can be unpleasant because they cannot always do what they want. But at the same time, they act as a barrier and keep children safe.

Restrictions are imposed on children for their own safety, such as not letting them play with matches and sharp objects, or not letting them play on the road.

With limits, we need to be careful that children also get sufficient opportunities for mental stimulation and to be themselves.

This will help them to develop into well-rounded individuals. Every restriction should also open an opportunity for the development of new skills.

When your child is watching television, for instance, he may feel bad if you ask him to have dinner. But this goes a long way towards showing him that everything has a beginning, a middle and an end, and that it is necessary to have priorities.