The Lord chose to make me wait a decade before he blessed me with a child. During that very long wait, I had a wonderful opportunity to observe parents in various situations as they made the valiant attempt to raise healthy, happy and productive children.
One of the observations that I made was that children don't like the word NO. In fact, they rebel against it and often times a tug of war ensues. The word NO seemed to inflame an already heated situation.
So, I decided that I was going to be a YES MOM.
What is a YES MOM?
A YES MOM is NOT Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy or a Fairy Godmother granting each and every wish and whim their child comes up with; She is NOT a pushover and does NOT agree to every activity or volunteer opportunity.
I'd like to introduce you to the YES MOM and her Strategy:
A YES MOM will clearly communicate what is coming next. This might be a daily schedule, use of a whiteboard, or a handwritten note. It might be a verbal communication, or visual communication. It might even be one task broken down into steps (ie: Brushing Teeth: first we rinse the toothbrush, then we put on toothpaste, then we scrub the top teeth... etc). She always rewards the child for carefully following directions.
A YES MOM helps her child brain storm and think through a possible solution. If her child is missing a book, Instead of saying "NO! I have no idea where you left your book." she might suggest that the last time they had the book was in the family room and then ask her child some investigative questions to prompt their remembrance... She might even give her child a magnifying glass and pretend the child is a Private Investigator and write down clues that get them one step closer to finding the missing item. She then celebrates the discovery with her child.
Every child wants to know "What's in it for me? If I cooperate, how will this benefit me?" A YES MOM always removes the questions and uncertainty and knows how to point out the benefit of cooperation. This benefit may not be something physical or reward driven, but could simply be the benefit of the child knowing that they are an important part of the family unit. She might say: "I loved the way you put the silverware in the drawer tonight, It makes Daddy and me so happy when the tools we use are ready and available when we need them. You did a great job. Your family appreciates you and your contribution"
A YES MOM involves her children in every day decision making. She might allow them to plan dinner one night a week, help decide what to purchase or make Grammy for her birthday or have the special privilege of being the grocery shopping helper for the week (which always ends in a small treat). Shared experiences draw us closer to one another. If parents are always calling the shots, the children never learn important leadership skills.
Sometimes the order of events in a day can be flexible. A YES MOM knows that this is a great time to allow her child to be in charge and exercise sound decision making skills. She involves her child in the process of making a list of what needs to be accomplished in a certain time frame and then empowers them to decide which order the tasks will be accomplished in. For example a YES MOM might say: "Sweetie, Can you think of anything that we need to do this morning? (She prompts and suggests helping the child to think of tasks that need to be accomplished such as Eat Breakfast, Take a Bath, Feed the cat, Shop for groceries) She then lets her child decide which task they will complete first. They keep a visual list and cross things off as they are completed. A YES MOM always verbally shows appreciation and respect for the way the child handled organizing their time and accomplishing the tasks.
A YES MOM solicits suggestions and ideas from her children. She presents the scenario and then asks probing questions of her children as to what their ideas would be in order to resolve the situation. She then tries to implement as many of those suggestions as possible or help the children realize what would be workable or not workable. Children love the trial and error experiment and enjoy seeing their ideas put in motion. This exercise greatly lifts a child's self esteem and helps them exercise problem solving skills
Not everything can be a YES, but there is a way to communicate that elicits cooperation. A YES MOM might respond: "You know what? I think it is really great that you would like to read a few more chapters before you feed the dog. That must be a really good book you are reading. You absolutely CAN read a few more chapters, but I would like for you to feed Skippy FIRST because he is very hungry and can't sleep when his tummy is growling. FIRST feed Skippy, THEN read more chapters" (she might even engage her child in conversation about the book while he is feeding the dog. No one likes to work alone and she might gain valuable information by asking a few probing questions about something that interests her child)
There certainly are times when a YES MOM chooses to use the word NO. She is very methodical and wise in implementing it, NO doesn't just "escape" her lips in anger or frustration. The word NO is not a manipulative word for the YES MOM. The word NO is reserved for situations which are dangerous, urgent, an emergency, or of great conviction and she does not use the word NO lightly. Her children know that when the YES MOM says the word NO that they need to stop immediately and assess the situation or the surrounding area. They don't often hear the word NO, so when it is spoken it has power and reverence attached to it. They know that the YES MOM would only use that word if it were critical to do so.
You might think that the YES MOM sounds a little like Super Man with Super YES Powers, so let's look at a real life example:
How does a YES MOM handle the "I want" scenario in the toy aisle of a store?
*Then she would give the child the opportunity to be a responsible leader in the shopping trip: "Which items would you like to be responsible for putting in the cart?"
However, if the child suggests the toy aisle, the YES Mom would do her best to use the toy aisle window shopping as a valuable reward incentive.
*She would express appreciation for a job well done. " I appreciate the helper you have been to me today. You chose a responsibility and you followed through like a great leader would do. Because you were responsible and kept your word, we absolutely can look at something you would like to look at"
*If the child "forgets" and asks for toys, the YES mom would show the child the pre-planned shopping trip and remind them that today's shopping trip was for these items. I'm sorry, but toys are not on the list for today. HOWEVER....
*She then pulls out a special YES MOM strategy: She affirms the child. She might say "I can see that you really like that toy. Would you like to write down the name of that toy and the color you like and we can add that item to your Birthday/Christmas wish list?" She then flips to the next page on her shopping list, offers it to the child with a pencil and allows them to pen the information.