Friday, May 27, 2011

Do We Need to Teach our Kids "No"?

Our 18 month old let us know he wanted to go for a bike ride this evening. There was still plenty of time before bed, the weather was descent, and there was really no compelling reason not to go for a little spin around the block on my bike, with my little guy in front on his bike seat.

However, I felt compelled to say no --and nearly did-- because gosh darnit it wasn't part of the plan this evening, and, well, he's just going to have to learn that he can't get everything he wants.

I paused, reconsidered, and ended up going for a lovely slow bike ride with him, enjoying the gardens in the neighbourhood before heading in for a bath. The leisurely ride gave me time to think about why I had felt compelled to say no to a reasonable, and completely doable request.

The question really is, do I need to create learning opportunities to teach my son that he can't get everything he wants? Do I need to say no to tonight's bike ride because it will prepare him for the night I have to say no?

In one word? No.

There are plenty of times for him to experience no without me contriving situations. I'll say "no" to biking when it's raining. He'll hear "no" to running onto the street. And he'll expect "no" if he pulls the cat's tail (though I often leave this up to the cat to express!). If he is going to have a lot of natural and authentic opportunities to learn that there are times things won't go completely his way, I certainly don't have to make our evening difficult and upsetting by turning him down just to "teach" him. My son is learning all the time. I certainly don't need to add artificial learning just to prove a point.

The best part of all this was that I was the one who learned something.