The first lessons of good manners, and other than “Mommy” and “Daddy,” often the first words we teach our children, are “Please” and “Thank You.” We teach them to ask nicely with a, “Please,” and to always say, “Thank you” when someone has done something kind or given them something. The word, “No” is often the first word they remember us saying to them, repeatedly and usually with some conviction, which is why they seem all to eager to repeat it back to us, seldom to our amusement.
Hearing our children calling us “Mommy” or “Daddy” gives us parents great pride, and their following that up with an “I love you,” can bring joyful tears. At some stage, the good manners of “Please” and “Thank you” can seem strangers while having fun with their friends, thankfully becoming reacquainted as they grow up. What else have you noticed about the words, “Please” and “Thank you” and “No?”
Were you ever so displeased with your child saying, “No,” that you may have said something like, “Don’t you tell me no?” The message that may send children is that they have no power and should never say “No” to an adult. There are other interpretations, but they do learn at a very early age that “No” is not a word that they may regularly use. Though we may not want our children to tell us that they will not clean their rooms, we do want them to know that in some cases it is perfectly appropriate for them to say, “No,” which may make it more confusing for them.
“No” is one of the most powerful words anyone can ever say. As an adult, are you reticent to saying, “No” when asked to do that next project at work or a favor for a friend? Might that be the result of what you learned as a child? Were you always trying to please your parents (or to not displease them)? Has that carried into adulthood where you find yourself wanting to be “nice” and to please others, even to your detriment?
What if the next time someone asks you to do something, you pause and give careful consideration to what is really best for you, and if you decide that you really don’t want to or don’t have the time, tell that someone, “No.” Now, imagine how wonderful it feels because you haven’t added that “one more thing” to your already busy life and you can actually breathe and do something just for you! Sometimes, our greatest successes come from our saying, “No,” because it frees us to do that which is most important for our joy and wellbeing. How cool is that?