As parents we tend to say “no” often. I think many of us say “no” to the things our children ask of us without even stopping to think. “No” is just the first thing or the easy thing to say. As a preschool teacher, I’ve learned to make “yes” my default answer. I stop and think before answering and say “yes” as often as I can. When children need more glue for their project, even if I think they have enough, the answer is “yes.” If they want to leave their block tower standing rather than clean up and the space is available, the answer is “yes.” Life is more fun and children are happier.
I remember eating lunch with Claire when she was three years old. She had her hot pizza in one hand and a spoon of cold yogurt in her other. She said, “can I put my yogurt on my pizza?” My first thought was “no, gross,” but instead I asked, “are you going to eat it?” She answered an enthusiastic, “yes!” So I said, “okay.” She spread yogurt all over her pizza and then ate the whole thing. She was happy and it was one less “no” we all had to deal with. Had she spread yogurt on her pizza, and then not eaten it, but asked again the next day, that answer would be a “no.” In this case the “yes” worked, and she enjoyed spreading yogurt on almost everything else she ate that month.