What This Situation Is Like for Parents

 

How frustrating is it when you tell your child “no” and they freak out?

How about when it’s something insignificant, like when you tell them that they can’t sit in that seat because their brother was there first? 

Or what about when it’s something they KNOW they shouldn’t do, like when you tell them they can’t jump on the couch — a rule that you’ve been enforcing since they could walk?

It’s frustrating because you don’t want them to freak out every time someone tells them no in life. Life is tough, and they’re going to have to face boundaries, obstacles, disappointment and frustration! 

You’re not even asking them to be happy when they don’t get their way! You just want them to be able to handling a situation with more self control (especially because you refuse to raise an entitled child) and it would be great if they could start handling it NOW. 

 

What This Situation Is Like for Kids

 

Kids don’t know they can handle disappointment and be OK.

Not only do they lack the life experience to know that small things usually turn out OK…

but even more importantly, they do not have the TOOLS to regulate their emotions.

So when they hear “no,” they get FRUSTRATED.

They feel that feeling in a big way, and they don’t know how to handle that frustration except in a very primitive (yelling, carrying on) self-centered way.

And then they get even more upset because we’re upset that they’re upset.

 

 

How It Usually Goes

When A Child Freaks Out When A Parent Says “No”

 

Scenario:

Carly refuses to eat dinner, so her mom tells her that if she doesn’t eat now she can’t have anything later. Later, Carly comes in the kitchen looking for something to eat. Her mom tells her she can’t have anything, and Carly freaks out.

 

Carly: What do you mean I can’t have anything? I’m SO HUNGRY!

Mom (recalling that she’d emphasized earlier to Carly that she could not have anything later if she didn’t eat at dinnertime): I TOLD you before that you wouldn’t be able to eat now! Why are you acting so surprised?!

Carly: I didn’t know then that I’d be hungry now!

Mom: Well, you should have thought of that earlier, Carly! I said NO!

Carly: This is crazy, Mom! I’m starving! Just let me have something! A vegetable?

Mom (thinks for a minute about whether she should let Carly have a vegetable)

Carly (sensing that her mom is considering changing her mind): Yes! A vegetable! I’ll go get some carrots.

Mom (remembering the importance of being firm): No, Carly! You can wait until breakfast.

Carly: Mom, NO! I want something NOW! I’m getting an apple and you can’t stop me!

The power struggle continues, as Carly’s mom knows she can’t physically prevent Carly from getting an apple.

 

How It Could Go

When A Child Freaks Out When A Parent Says “No”

 

Scenario:

 Carly refuses to eat dinner, so her mom tells her that if she doesn’t eat now she can’t have anything later. Later, Carly comes in the kitchen looking for something to eat. Her mom tells her she can’t have anything, and Carly freaks out.

 

Carly: What do you mean I can’t have anything? I’m SO HUNGRY!

Mom  No dinner, no food later.

Carly: But I wasn’t hungry then!

Mom: I’m sure you weren’t, hon. But that’s the rule. No dinner, no food later.

 

CALM

Carly’s mom is annoyed that Carly is asking for food when she’d explicitly told her before that she wouldn’t be able to have anything else that evening.

However, Carly’s mom knows that losing it on Carly will only make the situation worse. 

 

Carly: You’re so mean! I’m starving

Mom: (calmly and sincerely): I believe you.

 

CONNECT

Instead of telling Carly all of the reasons she should have eaten before if she didn’t want to be starving now, Carly’s mom respects Carly’s perspective. She understands that if she doesn’t show Carly that she has her back, the Yuck will get worse. 

 

Carly: I’m going to just go in the fridge and get something!

Mom (firmly and without emotion): Carly. No dinner, no food later.

Carly: This is so unfair! I’m not going to do well on my test tomorrow because of you!

(Mom is silent.)

Carly (complains for a couple more minutes. Eventually she relents when she doesn’t see her mom budging or being drawn into Carly’s emotions): Fine. I’m going to my room. 

 

 

CORRECT

Carly’s mom understands that Carly is in Yuck and feels out of control, which is why she is having such big emotions. To teach her how to regulate her own emotions, Carly’s mom stays firm AND compassionate — sticking to her boundaries without getting drawn into Carly’s emotions. 

 

 

How to Make the In-the-Moment Strategy Work

 

The “proactive deposits” discussed in the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap will make all of the difference in how this situation plays out in the moment.

If you want to effectively handle the situation when your child melts down when you say no, remember:

 

Depositing into CALM

Carly’s  mom will NOT be able to stay calm if

a.) her own biological or emotional “needs accounts” are low or

b.) she has the expectation that Carly is never going to push any boundaries or try to get her way

See Step 1 of the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap for help meeting your needs and setting expectations proactively so you can stay calm.

 

Depositing into CONNECT

Carly’s mom will only be able to connect if

a.) she recognizes that all behavior has a reason

b.) she understands that in this case, she just needs to let Carly have her Yuck if she wants her to get out of it.

When she becomes comfortable with the reasons behind behavior PROACTIVELY, she will be able to connect more effectively.

See Step 2 of the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap to learn the reasons for children’s behavior so you can connect more effectively.

 

Depositing into CORRECT

Carly’s mom will have more of an impact on correcting Carly’s behavior if:

a.) She  has demonstrated consistently in the past that she means what she says when she sets a boundary of “no” (otherwise Carly will carry on for longer).

b.) She  has made enough deposits into Carly’s emotional needs that being firm does not dredge up all of the past Yuck that she has inside.

When she demonstrates that she means what she says and when she makes deposits into Carly’s emotional needs PROACTIVELY, she will be able to correct Carly’s behavior more effectively.

See Step 3 of the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap  to learn more about improving your influence so you can correct behavior.