Go Of Resistance: Finding the Yes Behind the No
Peace of Mind Parenting
As I emerged out of the bathroom
last night only to find my son climbing and jumping from
my desk, I let out a small shriek of surprise. There were
a lot of glass objects right around where he had decided
to play Tarzan and just the sight of that jump had my
nerves standing on end.
But it was my reaction that really caught my son by
surprise. And a big ol NO! slipped out
of my mouth.
Ill never forget my sons reaction, which will
forever be ingrained in my memory.
For after I told him that the desk was dangerous for him
to jump off of, he turned to me with the most innocent,
big questioning eyes and said, Do you still love
I had to ask him to repeat the question again because,
honestly, I had never heard him ask me that before.
And he repeated, Do you still love me?
Wow. His words pierced right through to my heart.
Yes! Of course I still love you! I replied
grabbing him and hugging him. I will always love
you! In hearing this, his smile beamed from ear to
ear. You could feel his fulfillment and pure joy in that
As I wondered more about this No! that I was
so quick to react with, I was quickly reminded that my
reaction/response to my child has nothing to do with my
child and everything to do with me! So, I engaged my son
with our nonviolent tools of communication and we talked
about what just happened, how we were both feeling about
my reaction, and any future solutions we could come up
with when he felt the urge to climb.
Normally, we have a different practice around here
instead of me just saying no! when my child
does something that I dont enjoy. Yet, last night,
my nervous feelings got the best of me in that particular
moment and I reacted with my big ol No!
As parents, were often so quick to say
no to our children. After all, we know all
the rules and its our job to enforce
Well, no, maybe not.
Have you noticed that your child may react to your
no with resistance? And my experience with
resistance is that resistance begets
resistance. So, you may find yourself and your
child engaged in some sort of battle of wits with all of
Wouldnt it be nice if there was some secret of
connection that would head off this downward cycle before
it even starts?
Well, guess what? There is.
There is a secret that will instantly connect you with
your child and lay the foundation for future cooperation.
There is a yes lurking behind the
Finding the yes doesnt mean that you
acquiesce to your every childs request. Quite the
opposite. You are actually holding true to your
no, your limit, yet, at the same time, you
are acknowledging your childs feelings and desires
whenever he/she makes a request. Finding the
yes behind the no lets your child
know that his/her feelings do matter, builds your
childs emotional intelligence and does worlds for
your childs self-esteem as well.
So, how does it look?
Lets say its just after dinner, and your
child has just thrown his ice cream all over the floor.
Instead of immediately responding with your
no, you can validate your childs desire
for play and how throwing the ice cream makes your child
feel. Heres an example:
Ice cream is really slimy, huh? It seems like
its really fun to throw! You have a need to play,
(hint: this is the yes) but we dont
throw ice cream because
..it makes the floor
slippery and somebody may fall (or whatever your reason
this is the no, your limit and should
be in line with your personal/family values.)
Your child will either be ok with your explanation or
he/she may have big feelings around your limit. And
heres where its helpful to remember the 3
reasons from my good friend and colleague, Marion
When kids do things that we dont enjoy,
its because of 3 reasons:
He/she has an unmet need
A need for information
A need to release painful feelings related to stress or
You may often experience your childs tantrums or
big feelings as causing some disconnection with you yet,
your child is really trying to express something that
lies deeper within and could actually cause a deeper
connection and understanding between the two of you.
Finding the yes behind the no and
validating that yes first allows for the
connection and understanding between you and your child.
You can still hold the limit and then use any of our
Nonviolent parenting tools to honor your childs big
feelings and maintain the connection between you and your
child, even during your childs biggest emotional
If you havent yet received our free 3-part video
series on how to handle tantrums/big feelings using 5
Nonviolent Tools, go here: www.peaceofmindparenting.com/calm-your-child
And have fun with that ice-cream
floor! I hear its great for skating
Steve's suggestion and comments
Mom says after the NO!...
I'm sorry I scared you hunny,
but I felt so scared myself when I saw you jumping
near those pieces of glass. I'm really afraid, like
9.9 that you will cut yourself and I feel really
protective of you, like 10+ I love you so much and I
don't want you to hurt yourself. And I feel
responsible for keeping you safe. I'd also feel
guilty if you did cut yourself.
If the parent isn't able to put all
her feelings into words like that, maybe the child could
How are you feeling, mommy?
Were you afraid I would cut my feet on the glass? It
looks like you were really afraid. How afraid were
you, from 0 to ten?
I find this kind of direct
communication of emotion, along with the levels of
intensity, very useful! And kids seem to pick up on it
I also believe its normal, natural
to just scream out. We can't and shouldn't always calmly
state our feelings. When there is a real danger it is
good to create the connection in the brain for the child.
But what we don't want to do is teach the child to be
afraid of *us*.
I believe a hug and saying how you
feel with feeling words after initial shouting will
create bonds of love and security while leaving in place
the fear of the dangerous situation.