stop saying no

5 Times Never to Say No to Your Kids

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Recently, I’ve found myself saying no far too often to my kids’ requests. The other day, I was in a hurry, trying to make breakfast for our family on a Saturday. Normally, I would let my 4-year-old daughter help me stir the pancake mix. But when she asked to help, I said, “No, honey. Let me get this done.” She sat with tears in her eyes wondering why I would refuse her help. I realized in that moment that it might be time to stop saying no.

I want to be a “Yes Dad,” to figure out ways to encourage and support my kids when they have questions or make simple requests. Of course, sometimes, you have to postpone your yes. It won’t be a no—it’ll be a “Yes, at 5 p.m., when my workday ends.” And then be sure to show up at 5 to do whatever you agreed to do. Here are 5 times never to say no to your kids.

1. When they ask, “Can you play with me?”

It’s time to stop saying no when the kids ask to play. My son and daughter ask me this question almost daily. It’s usually when I first get home from work and I’m often very tired. However, I know there’s a day coming when they won’t be asking me to play with them anymore. I want them to remember I said yes to simply playing and being with them. Playing with our kids on their level is good for so many reasons, especially communication and relationship building.

2. When they ask, “Can you help me?”

I have to confess that sometimes when my kids ask me for help, I get a little impatient and annoyed. I’m learning to realize this is a blessing. I want my kids running to me for help no matter what, even when they’re older. Of course, when helping them, I want to encourage them to become independent and grow. But I never want to give the impression that they’re bothering me by asking for help.

3. When they ask, “Can you lay down with me?”

Bedtime can be one of the sweetest moments of the day with your kids—if we stop saying no when they ask this question. My kids often ask if I will lay with them for a few moments when I tuck them in. I have found that both of them open up to deeper conversations more when I do this than in most other times of the day. Now, if you have teenagers, they aren’t going to ask you to lay down with them, but believe me—they’ll sometimes finally feel like talking when the day’s about to end. Let them. You’ll want to go to bed. Don’t. Take advantage of whatever chance they give you to connect.

4. When they ask, “Can I help you?”

I like to do home projects. Better yet, I like to get home projects done efficiently and quickly, so when my kids ask me if they can help me, I generally used to hesitate or say no. However, I’m starting to realize that if I want to teach my kids to serve and help others I have to encourage them to help at home. This could be with a house project, cooking a meal, cutting the grass. For the most part, they just want to be with you anyway.

When our kids ask if they can talk to us, our immediate answer shouldn’t just be ‘yes,’ but ‘always!’

5. When they ask, “Can I talk to you?”

When our kids ask if they can talk to us, our immediate answer shouldn’t just be “yes,” but “always!”  Especially when they get older, drop what you’re doing and stop to listen and engage with them. Often, when our kids come to us asking to talk, it’s because what they want to discuss is extremely important to them and they need our encouragement, support, or help.

Now that you know when to stop saying no, check out the times that “no” is the right answer.

Sound off: Did your parents say yes or no when you asked these questions as a kid? How did their answers affect you?

Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What’s your favorite way to spend time with me?”