Learning to Say Yes

So lately I’ve been trying on a new parenting approach. I guess you could call it somewhat permissive, lax, free-flowing – all scary words in the world of parenting, I know!

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It came about after reading this blog post from Janet Lansbury about the power of acknowledging our child’s perspective. It got me thinking about what Lila’s world must feel like. She has about 20 words, but can’t yet communicate all she wants. She is starting to flex her independent spirit, yet still wants on hand firmly planted around my finger. She is learning about the world with an insatiable curiosity, but doesn’t know it’s limits yet.

Sounds like a pretty confusing and frustrating place to be, right?

I decided to take a few days to really hone in on my observation skills to see what was causing her frustration and how I could help. I watched her in her play and interactions with people – especially with her main care-giver, me. It became clear rather quickly that her moments of big frustration were usually after being told “no,” or having something taken away, or not being able to do something she wants. Pretty normal.

But I also noticed that I was saying no to her a lot (not the actual word, but the intention). “We’re not going to do bubbles right now, I’m folding laundry” “I can’t let you play with my makeup, it will make a mess.” “Please don’t put your hands in the dirt.” “Don’t pick that up off the ground, that’s yucky.” In fact, when I thought back on one ten minute period, I had essentially told her “no” eight different times. Eep!

I realized too that while many of my “no’s” were totally necessary, others were more MY opinion or desire for how I thought our day should go and weren’t necessarily needed. I mean there really isn’t a reason I can’t put the laundry aside for a minute to blow bubbles out on the deck, right?

I decided to start giving Lila as many “yeses” as I could. As long as it wasn’t something that could be a safety issue or be so annoying as to make me lose my cool, then I am trying to go with it. And so far, my quest to say yes has taken us on some fun adventures.

You want to take your shoes off and put your feet in the lake? You want to taste the sand? OK!

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Sure, you can try eating your smoothie yourself with a spoon. It’ll make a mess, but that’s ok.

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You want to try climbing this ladder by yourself? Let’s go for it. (she made it to the top on the first try!)

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Running in the dirt? Why not!

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I think having more yes in her life has helped Lila deal better with the necessary nos. Giving her a little more control over her decisions, actions and feelings has cut down on her frustrations while also building her confidence as a little decision-maker.

And it’s also taught me a good lesson … how to look on the bright side and be open to the “yes” moments in life.