Although saying No to your child is obviously important, many parents still have a hard time following through—even when they know they should—especially when other parents and the culture around them are being permissive.
Now, successful psychologist, bestselling author, and nationally known parenting expert Dr. David Walsh provides you with an arsenal of tactics, explanations, and examples for using No the right way with your kids. His memorable, affecting, and sometimes humorous anecdotes help you regain confidence in your own judgment and ability to say No as they remind you that you're not alone in your parenting struggles. With Dr. Walsh's down-to-earth advice, you can immediately assess and improve your relationship with your kids, set and enforce limits that make sense for different ages (from toddlers to teens), and otherwise make No a positive influence on kids' behavior and in your overall family life.
The first look at the psychological importance of No in a child's development, No offers the lively voice, warm wisdom, science made simple, and breadth of knowledge that readers have come to expect from Dr. Walsh.
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
No: Why Kids Need It
Not too long ago, I was standing in line in a Target store behind a man and his young son, whose age I would guess at about three. Everything was fine until the boy looked to the left and found himself staring at a row of candy bars.
"Daddy, can I have one?" he asked as he grabbed and held one up for his father to see.
"No, not now. We're going to have dinner as soon as we get home," the father replied. A look of concern flitted across the dad's face, and I soon discovered why.
At hearing No, the three-year-old began a seemingly well-rehearsed routine. The young boy pleaded and whined. The father hung tough for a few minutes, but his resolve crumbled when the young extortionist brought out the heavy artillery: a full-throated wail. "I want one," he screamed loud enough that everyone within fifty feet could hear.
The father held out for one more second and then caved in. "Oh, all right. You can choose one. Now stop screaming."
The boy defiantly picked out two candy bars and looked up to check out the response. The dad reminded his son that he had said one, and the wailing resumed. "Okay, okay, but no more," the father said in a loud whisper. Realizing he was on a roll, the kid grabbed a third candy bar. When the father reached down to take it away, the boy let out an ear-splitting shriek and started a Milky Way tug-of-war. The battle ended quickly, but the three-year-old was the clear victor: He left with three candy bars and his father left muttering and beaten. This boy not only won the candy bar skirmish, he learned an enduring lesson: No does not mean no. No signals that it's time to escalate.
Every parent is familiar with these battles. We console ourselves by thinking, It's only a candy bar, or, It's not worth having a meltdown. Unfortunately, the stakes get a lot higher as the years go by. I recently had a conversation with parents who gave their sixteen-year-old daughter permission to go on an unchaperoned trip to Mexico over spring break with a group of friends. They talked with me after attending one of my seminars on the teenage brain, which are based on my last book, Why Do They Act That Way?
The mother spoke first. "We're really worried about what might happen on this spring break trip after listening to you tonight. Do you think we made a mistake?"
"Were you comfortable with your decision before tonight?" I responded.
"Not really," she answered. "We never thought it was a good idea. But now we're really worried."
"Why did you say yes?" I asked.
After exchanging uneasy glances, the father spoke. "We said no at first, but our daughter was relentless. When we found out that all her friends were going we finally gave in. We made a deal with her that she has to call us every day and check in. We also laid down the law about drinking, drugs, and sex."
"It sounds like you weren't comfortable with your decision even before you came here tonight. Am I right about that?"
"Yes, you're right," the mother blurted. "I'm worried sick about what might happen. I'll be holding my breath until she gets home." She looked at her husband. "I just hate being in this position. We either let her go with the other kids or she makes life miserable for months."
The spring break trip and the Milky Way battle have a lot in common. While the stakes are a lot higher for the parents of teenagers, the difficulty in saying no is the same. The importance of saying and sticking to No is the same as well.
Copyright © 2007 by David Walsh, PhD
Table of Contents
One No: Why Kids Need It 1
Two Saying No in a Yes Culture 22
Three No and the Brain 39
Four Self-Esteem: Kids Need the Real Thing 57
Five Styles of Parenting 80
Six A Baby's First Year: A Time to Connect 101
Seven Toddlers and Preschoolers: Limits and Consequences 118
Eight Catching Kids Being Good: The Middle Years 140
Nine The Teenage Years: Loosen but Don't Let Go 155
Ten Wired Differently: Special-Needs Children and No 183
Eleven Practical Questions about No 212
Twelve Taming the Gimmes 239
Thirteen Raising Media Wise Kids 257
Fourteen No Is Not a Destination; No Is the Road to Yes 275
What People are Saying About This
"Dr. Walsh's new book arrives in the Land of Immediate Gratification just in time. In it, he discusses discipline and self-restraint from neurological, developmental, familial, and cultural points of view. Walsh is an excellent scientist and cultural observer who gives sage, sensitive, and practical advice. No should be required reading for every parent who walks out of a hospital with a newborn." Mary Pipher, PhD, author of Reviving Ophelia
"A comprehensive guide, it is not just about how to say No, but gives sound, practical advice that will help parents raise considerate, motivated children who will succeed in school, job, and life. The chapter on self-esteem alone is worth the price of the book. No will help today's parents avoid raising the next Generation Me." Jean Twenge, PhD, professor of psychology, San Diego State University, and author of Generation Me