No: Why Kids--of All Ages--Need to Hear It and Ways Parents Can Say It

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9780743289177: No: Why Kids--of All Ages--Need to Hear It and Ways Parents Can Say It
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Cites the importance and value of setting appropriate boundaries while raising children, sharing a wealth of case examples that demonstrate how parents can instill self-discipline, respect, and integrity in young people in the face of cultural permissiveness. By the author of Why Do They Act That Way? 50,000 first printing.

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About the Author:

David Walsh, PhD, is one of the most sought after speakers in America on child and teen psychology, parenting, and media's effect on children. President and founder of the National Institute on Media and the Family in Minneapolis, he is an award-winning psychologist, the author of Why Do They Act That Way? A Survival Guide to the Adolescent Brain for You and Your Teen, a television personality, and the subject of a nationally televised PBS special, Raising Media Wise Kids.

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One

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

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9780743289207: No: Why Kids--of All Ages--Need to Hear It and Ways Parents Can Say It

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