Saying No: Three Steps to Saying No

I’m horrible at saying no. I say yes to a lot, way too much actually. Yesterday, I was listening to a podcast (Elise Blaha Cripe’s) all about saying no. I had an epiphany: one of my greatest parenting struggles stems from my inability to say no. I say yes to my kids even when I mean no. And then when I can’t follow through, they can’t wrap their head around what’s going on since I told them “yes,” but then I end up doing “no.”

I’ve decided to make it my mission to say no more. That might sound so negative, but I want my kids to believe and trust in what I say, so I need to say what I mean and feel from the get go. I’ve come up with three steps to help me get started on my “no” journey … maybe they can help you too.

1. Ease into it. This week trying adding at least one no to your day. Then maybe trying adding two the next day and work up to three. Spend a solid week or two saying no at least three times a day. Do you really want to watch that TV show? No? Then say no. Do you want to go to the park? No? Then say no.

2. When in doubt, say no. My friend Laurie told me when her daughter was little she always was quick to say no. She said no to almost everything. She explained that if she said no and then decided that a yes was more appropriate, it was much easier to change course from a no to a yes. I am the exact opposite. I say yes to everything, because I don’t want the conflict. But the truth is, there are about a zillions times that when I’m saying yes I know my answer should be no. When in doubt, say no. It sets the expectations and makes it easier to follow through later or change course as needed.

3. Trust your gut. Most of time I know – without a doubt – I want to say no, but I don’t have the courage to say it. If I’d trust my gut and go with my initial instinct, I’d be a more consistent and happy person and parent. Mike jokes about how even though I say yes, I really mean no. It’s been a pretty constant struggle in our house that I’ll say yes to something (Yes, let’s go to the zoo) and what I’m think in my head is, “No, I don’t have time for the zoo, I really need to go grocery shopping.” Still, I’ll say yes in the moment knowing I’ll have to back out later. I need to stop that.

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