Expert Parenting Advice
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The "Yes challenge"

Why instinctively saying No leads to power struggles, and what to do instead.

"I want to wear the pink dress!"

My 4 year old daughter Sarah was standing in the doorway, arms crossed, face scrunched up in determined anger.

"But honey, the pink dress is in the wash, you can't wear it," I said soothingly.

"No, I want to wear the pink dress!" she shouted, now stomping her feet angrily.

"You can't wear the pink dress, but here's your Mickey Mouse one. You love the Mickey Mouse dress, don't you?" I tried again.

"No, I want to wear the pink dress!"

That was my morning today. Fighting about clothing was not something I ever expected to be doing before I had kids, but here we are...

The closer my daughter is getting to 5, the more stubborn she is getting. When she decides she wants something, it is incredibly hard to get her to change her mind, even if what she wants is impossible to get.

My problem is that I am also very stubborn, so we end up in endless power struggles over stupid little things.

One of the best tips I got for avoiding power struggles with your kids is from Sarah Rosensweet, a parenting coach and host of the top-rated parenting podcast, The Peaceful Parenting Podcast.

In our interview, she shared why "Giving Up" is sometimes that best parenting strategy. Often, we parents get into the habit of wanting to enforce our will, without really thinking about whether it is really necessary.

For example, you might think it is cold outside and your kid needs to wear a jacket, but is it really necessary, or can you let them experience the consequences of not wearing a jacket while it is cold themselves?

Sarah also explains that if you can break the habit of saying No all the time, and stop getting into power struggles with your kids, then when you really need to say No to something, you kids are more willing to accept it because they know you are not just arbitrarily saying No.

So, here's the challenge: today, try to catch yourself at least once before you say No to your kids, and think of a way that you can say Yes instead. When you child asks for something, instead of instinctively saying No, think of a way that you can give them what they want.

If the answer is still No, at least it will be a thoughtful No and not just an instinctive, reactive No.