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How Saying Yes More Often Improved My Relationship with My Toddler

A few weeks ago on an overcast Saturday afternoon, I found myself at the park with my 6-month-old son and 3-year-old daughter and realized that I wasn’t saying yes enough. We had been in the house all morning and I wanted an activity that would get us all out of the house to pass some time and help my toddler burn some energy – a win-win for us all. Being the planner I am, I checked the forecast before we put on our shoes. No rain was expected until 7pm and it was just after 12. Perfect.

As soon as I got the baby out of the car and into his stroller, I heard the first crash of thunder. I knew the rain was imminent and that the forecast had been off, but, if you’re a mom to a toddler like mine, you know that once you have already promised the park, there is no turning back. I warned Harper that we wouldn’t be able to stay long because a storm was on the way and encouraged her to try to have a good time before we had to go.

The Beauty of Playing in the Rain

Just as expected, about 10 minutes after Harper began exploring the playground, the rain began. As it drizzled lightly, I pushed Jaxson’s stroller to a covered area where I could still keep an eye on Harper. As the rain picked up, I called her over and told her that she would need to come stand by us to keep dry until the rain lightened up. She protested, “but, Mommy, I want to keep playing in the rain.” “No, Harper. You’re going to be soaking wet,” I explained. “It’s fun! Can I go in the rain, please?” She asked in the sweetest voice. My response almost surprised me, “Sure. Go ahead and play.” And, she was off.

Before that day, I never considered myself a “yes mom,” but as I watched my baby girl have the time of her life going down wet slides and pretending to be Moana on her boat during a storm, I couldn’t help but smile. The pure joy was evident. There was no lightening, so I didn’t feel that she was in any danger. We, as always, had multiple changes of clothes and even a towel in the car. So, why was I so quick to tell her no in the first place? It was on that day that I decided that I would try to say yes more often.

A Look at Your Own Motives

Just for a second, imagine being a toddler. Imagine wanting to explore, experience, and try new things and constantly being told “no” or “not right now,” sometimes without even getting a clear explanation as to why not. Imagine what that might do to your confidence and overall excitement about the world around you. If you’re reading this post, I know that you, like me, strive to be a great parent. I know that you want the best for your child and aren’t trying to be the “bad guy.” I also know that by saying no more than we say yes, we may be stifling our children.

Saying yes to your toddler more often does not mean saying yes to 100% of the things that your kids ask of you 100% of the time, but, instead, it means that you will think before you say no. Of course, if something is bad for your child’s health or may put her in a dangerous situation, no is appropriate, but otherwise, an honest look at your own motives may be a good idea.

3 Things To Start Saying Yes To as a Mom

After that day at the park when I decided to say yes to my toddler more often, I sat and thought about the types of things that I usually say “no” to and why. As a new “yes mom”, I decided that I am no longer saying no to:

Start Saying Yes to toys/activities that you bought for your child or allow her to have in the house

This includes things like playdoh, paint, slime, tea sets, etc.. If she’s allowed to have these things in the house, she’s allowed to play with them. It’s unfair to tempt our children with these items if we’re constantly going to decline their requests to enjoy them.

Start saying yes to things that may be messy or require a change of clothes

If we have the tools and time to clean up said mess or change said clothes: Often, I don’t let Harper do certain things (particularly the above activities) because I don’t want to deal with the mess. Making a mess and getting dirty is a part of childhood, and I don’t want to rob my child of that just because I’m too lazy to clean up because, newsflash – the house is going to be a mess at the end of the day regardless.

Start saying yes to anything that your child wants to do that you want to say no to because it may be embarrassing to you or make you “look bad” as a parent

To be honest, for me, this was the biggest one and the hardest pill to swallow. I will no longer say no to my daughter because of how her action may make me look. If you see Harper out and about in a princess dress or tacky day socks, know that that is me practicing what I preach.

The Benefits of Saying Yes to Your Toddler More Often

Harper is a free spirit. She loves to go and to do. She’s fearless and fun in the best ways possible. She wants to have tea parties with her stuffed animals, jump in puddles, wear her Elsa dress to Target, and spend her baby brother’s nap time finger painting with me on the front porch. Realistically, why wouldn’t I allow her to do those things? They bring her joy, and, thus, they bring me joy too.

On top of that, saying yes more often made hearing no less of a pain point for my daughter. She started to learn that I only said no to things that we really couldn’t or shouldn’t do and stopped having so many tantrums as a result. Now, as opposed to thinking that I’m saying no to be the fun police, she recognizes that if I’m saying no, there must be a good reason why, and I try my best to share that reason with her when possible so that she’ll understand.

When I started saying yes more often, I quickly realized that I was saying yes to far more than just the activities and requests themselves. I’m saying yes to childhood, exploration, learning, and development. I’m saying yes to quality time.

Activities I’ve Been Saying Yes to Lately

Since I realized that saying yes more often was improving my relationship with my toddler, I’ve been making a point to say yes to the things that bring her joy whenever possible. If you’ve looking for some fun activities to do with your toddler, you can shop some of the activities I’ve been saying yes to lately below, including the foam machine pictured above that was a BIG hit with Harper.

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