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Rule 1 NO means NO!

"NO means NO"
This is my first rule for effective parenting and happy kids. But it is harder then it sounds.

"NO means NO" does not apply only to Mom and Dad telling Jimmy what to do, it also means that Jimmy has the right to say no and be obeyed as well.

Now wait a minute, Miss Kris, we can't have 3-year-olds telling us what to do. That would lead to anarchy and chaos!

Quite right, the essence of this rule is to only give your child a choice when he can honestly make a choice and have it stick.

If you are going to give your child a bath in 5 minutes no matter what she says don't ask her if she is ready for a bath, tell her that bath time is in 5 minutes. If the child cannot choose no, don't make it a question.

Next time you are out and about, pay attention to families around you. Note how many times the children are asked, "Are you ready...?" or "Do you want to...?" Then note how many times the caregiver does it anyway regardless of what the child says.

When children are asked for a decision and then ignored it confuses and frustrates them. They may yell NO over and over thinking they weren't heard, they may throw tantrums or stop answering all together since it doesn't matter what answer they give.

So, what questions can you ask your child under this rule?

The order of activities - does he want to eat breakfast first or get dressed first?
Let him choose between appropriate items - red shirt or green shirt, corn or bean greens with dinner,
Whether she wants to participate in an activity - only when not participating is a safe option and there will be a chance for the child to change her mind and join in later. Obviously you wouldn't want your 6-year-old to stay home from DmouseLand because she was tired when it was time to leave.
The third aspect of this rule is teaching children to respect NO when it comes from other children. Most of the time simply reinforcing a child's right to say no and be obeyed is enough for kid to kid interactions. They soon learn that they control their own bodies and that is good enough for them.

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