When Saying ‘No’ Seems To Be The Hardest Word ?· When Saying ‘No’ Seems To Be The Hardest Word…
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When Saying No Seems To Be The Hardest Word 05 Nov 2012
By taking a step back and saying No lovingly to the people around you, you are not only freeing
yourself from obligations, you are also doing them a lot of good. Yes, this includes your precious little
ones, too. By Tanny Chia
You are not special. You are not exceptional.
A U.S. high school teacher made this extraordinary statement to a graduating class earlier this year,
which made headlines for going against the very grain of modern positive parenting.
Far from being cruel, he was cautioning against over-entitlement in a generation of youths who are
having their way too easily. Part of the cause overindulgent parents.
Experts say setting limits by enforcing rules and discipline is essential for proper emotional
development. Giving in to every request can make the child feel unsafe, especially for pre-school and
primary school children, says Chang-Goh Song Eng, Head of REACH Counselling. Safety is assured
when they see parents taking charge and applying rules consistently and lovingly, she explained.
Why saying No to your child is a good thing Michelle A., a director of a brand agency and mother to her 6-year-old daughter Olivia, sees valuable
lessons to be learnt from turning down or delaying childrens requests. Delayed gratification will help
them appreciate things more, learn theyve to work for it, and that they wont always get their way in
life, she explains. Instead of a flat refusal, Michelle will explain her decision to Olivia. If Olivia
demands candy at dinnertime, Michelle explains to her that snacking will spoil her appetite, and
instead offer a sweet after dinner.
For older children, it is necessary to say No to a request or task that you think will benefit them by
doing it themselves. For example, if your primary school child asks you to do her school assignment
because it is too hard for her, you can tell her that you will help her plan and find the materials she
needs but she will need to execute the project on her own. By lovingly rejecting some requests, you
are helping your child grow into independence and maturity.
Some parents find it hard to reject their childrens request because of guilt. This is especially common
in working parents who tend to over-compensate their time away from home by giving in to their
childrens request. Online editor Joyce J. Chansingh took to giving in to her 10-year-old sons
requests for books and action figurines to make up for his heavy schoolwork and lack of playtime. At
times Im worried about over-indulging him but then its always a nice feeling to see that sparkle in his
eyes. (See sidebox for Tips on Saying No).
While it is necessary to deny children sometimes, parents need to take care not to overdo it. Some
parenting experts believe saying no indiscriminately can plant the seeds of rebellion in the future or
hinder a childs willingness to push boundaries for fear of disapproval.
Quit over-functioning If you are someone who always says Yes to requests from your spouse or family members because
you feel that you are the best person to get things done, you are over-functioning. Over-functioning is
doing more than your share, stepping in to help and stepping up to rescue. When we give too much to
others, we often under-value ourselves, which leads to resentment.
Song Eng explained that in a marriage, oneness and building emotional connections does not imply
that each has to give in to the other all the time or have one party doing the giving in most of the
time. Doing the latter upsets the power balance in the marital ecosystem, with one party bound to be
upset sooner or later. This could lead to avoidance or constant arguments.
If your spouse is capable of ironing his own shirts, let him do it. If your mom calls you to tell you to
host dinner at your house for a family gathering this weekend and you are up to your neck with a
project, dont feel compelled to say Yes. Suggest bringing the family to a nearby restaurant or get
everyone to contribute a dish. If your colleague is not performing, instead of picking up his slack, sit
down with him and tell him clearly what you expect from him.
Recognise your own needs and limitations and understand that you are not rejecting the person when
you say No. Even when you have to bear with the tantrums, cold shoulder treatment, or snide
remarks, remember that youre drawing boundaries not just for your own well-being, but also for the
good of your loved ones.
When it comes to saying No, the adage its not what you say, its how you say it usually
applies. Here are some tips on how to say No without hurting relationships:
Listen to the request respectfully and acknowledge the thoughts and feelings of the other
Be honest. People are more understanding than we think.
When you are unable to make a decision, say Let me think about it instead of being
pressured into saying Yes.
Even after you have said Yes , you can still change your mind. Follow up with the person
and say, Im sorry I promised to (the task/obligations) without thinking. Fact is, Im unable to
commit to it at this point in time.
Offer alternatives, and learn to use words other than No. Try saying Im sorry I cant give you
a ride today. Maybe next time.