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.


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