Yes, you may.


Children don’t get better at coping with hearing the word “no” because we deliberately impose a “firm no” sometimes. What best prepares children to deal with the “real world”, rules, limit setting, and boundaries is to feel like they have some control over their lives.  Children need to feel supported, empowered, respected, and heard.


There is so much more to “yes” than just saying “yes” to activities and exploring. It’s really about meeting our children where they are, empowering them, and finding ways to embrace their natural curiosities. It’s about trusting them and their abilities.  It’s about living a life where everything is a teachable moment, rather than living in fear of the “what if”.

YES – You may help me cook, I will teach you to do it safely.

YES – You may explore that outlet, I will explore it with you to keep you safe as I talk to you about the dangers. 

YES – You may climb that ladder, I will be close by guiding you to do it safely if needed.

YES – You may go barefoot.  I will make you aware of the risks and let you choose.  I will take along some shoes in case you decide you need them so I can model compassion and empathy and grace.

When we are feeling tired and depleted, we can still find ways to say YES.

My son wanted to listen to a song at bed time. This was after reading stories, after singing, and after snuggling for several minutes.  I was beat.  My response – “That would be so fun.  We can do that first thing in the morning.  When I get up to go to my room I will get the CD out and ready to go”.  Now, sometimes this is not enough.  Sometimes they want to do it “right now”.  Those are the times we listen, validate, and empathize.

What you will find, is that validating their needs/wants, saying yes, and following through by keeping your word will establish a level of trust between you and your children that ultimately leaves everyone feeling heard and respected.

A relationship that leaves everyone feeling like their needs are being met.

It’s not always easy.

It’s a process.

It’s a lifestyle.

It’s a paradigm shift in the way we think.

But it gets easier,  becomes habit, and ultimately it’s so worth it.

So remember, nobody here has super powers, we all have days where our tanks are empty.  Find ways to say YES even if its not a yes right now.

“YES – let’s plan a day to do that.”

“YES – Let’s mark that on the calendar.”

“YES – we can do it for one minute and then it’s all done.”

“YES – you may have another cookie tomorrow….let’s put it in the tomorrow jar.”






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4 Responses to YES

  1. nancy says:

    I have to say this old post has stuck with me the last many months since reading it. Every day when I start to hear the ‘Nnn’… start to come out of my mouth, I take a breath and try to reason and see the world from their eyes. Now, I’ve at least corrected myself to beginning almost all requests with “Well, ….” that way I have to pause and think about their request and have a moment to weigh it. That very easy ‘automatic no’ isn’t around much these days and I thank this post for that! Although I still don’t think I have the courage to let my son that close to fire or let him jump down a flight of stairs ….but I’m working on it!! Thanks!

  2. Pingback: Lily Pads and Saying “yes” | Butterbees and Bumbleflies

  3. Mr. Ya!' says:

    Me and my wife just recently gave birth to twin boys about 14 months ago. Needless to say that our days are filled with numerous moment s of joy, laughter, and……………………………………. exhaustion. Although the boys are still developing every day, it makes me feel better to adjust to the days that are ahead of me. Thankx for the post.

  4. Connie says:

    I started out with just this very approach but my son seemed more than uneasy with being put off (“yes, let’s do that tomorrow” etc). He actually thrives on being given a straight answer and never reacts poorly to “No.” When an answer is “yes” but not “yes, just in the way you want it to be yes”, it makes him more persistently inquisitive and anxious. No has its place in our house. Not, “No, but maybe another day we can”, just “No.”

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