“I was having fun; why are you so mad at me?!”
You’re tired, the kids are wired, and it seems like saying “no” is all you do. Welcome to crunch time – when jumping on the couch, running around a store, and touching everything is the perpetual motion of every child! This is when we’re likely to say “no” to almost everything because we are done.
Unfortunately, this negative reaction can have a few consequences: it kills the positive feelings in the room, doesn’t provide solutions for the kids being told “no,” and can lead to meltdowns or fights because you’ve interrupted the action (even if it was driving you crazy).
The answer is to turn the no around and help your child find something they can do! It might sound hard, but as you practice this, it becomes fun. And over time, as your kid catches on to what you’re doing, you can ask them, “What can you do?” I promise they will start thinking of the answers.
Here are some examples:
- “Honey, couches aren’t for jumping, but you know where you can jump? On the floor! And if you’re any good at jumping, you’ll jump like a frog (a rabbit or a kangaroo).”
- “Sweetie, don’t throw rocks at people. But you can throw rocks at the rock garden. See how close you can get your rock to the big grey one over there.”
- “Bam, Bam, feeding the dog people food isn’t good for our pooch. I wonder what you can give the dog that is good for him?” (Balls, toys, treats, kisses, you get the idea.)
NOTE 1: In the video, I said REI. I clearly love shopping there because that was wrong. The child-raising approach I also love is RIE (see how easy it is to mess that up!?). Here’s more about the approach.
NOTE 2: It is from Airplane; here’s the clip!
How it works
What: There’s some behavior happening that’s not okay. Usually, it’s physical and is likely to really trigger your anger. Make sure you check in with your feelings so you can let go of the anger and turn this into play. The trick is to identify what the child CAN do, similar to what they are doing but more appropriate.
When: Do this as soon as you see a behavior you want to change. Be sure to positively reinforce the behavior change, “Great job jumping! You have good ideas. What else jumps?” The faster you redirect, the faster you can let go of the stress. You can always engage them to help you think of things that can be done.
Benefit: Aside from the obvious prevention of unintended consequences, you’re teaching your child how to problem-solve and transition healthily. You’ll laugh when they start using this on you or their friends. Your kids will start to see there are still ways to meet their needs but with small changes that keep everyone happy. It’s a great skill for them to learn and for you to use to keep your sanity.
The final piece of advice is to look for ways for kids to have access to things to remove some of the “no’s.” In the video, I talk about having things kids can touch so they can participate in celebrations and traditions that are exciting without creating drama and stress. My examples were crocheted stockings that are 100% theirs or a crochet pumpkin they can throw and hug and hold. It might scare you how many problems I solve with crochet! The idea is to think of them as you create settings where they will want to engage.
Did you try this technique? How did it work? Hit me up on social media or leave a comment here. And if you like this content, subscribe on YouTube and share it with your friends. Thank you.