“Mom, I want to wear my princess costume to school!” “No.”
“Mom, can I have chocolate ice cream for breakfast?” “No!”
“Mom… I was just going to see if I can fly if I jump from this branch… just like a bird!” “No, no and nooooo!!!!!”
Does this sound familiar? Do you ever feel like you are ‘Super-No’: meaner than Darth Vader, more negative than subtraction, and able to crush young dreams with a single word? It sounds like your family could use a “Yes Day”…
There is a fabulous book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal (and by the way, if you have never heard of her, you’ve got to check out her other books, like Duck! Rabbit!, Spoon, Little Pea and others) called Yes Day.
It’s about how parents say “No” to everything all the time, and once a year the little boy gets a “Yes Day” where his parents say “Yes!” to everything. Kids often feel powerless (eat this, sleep now, brush your teeth, wear this, no, no, no, no!). A whole day of letting them be in control is amazingly empowering for them and it’s also surprisingly liberating and enjoyable for parents!
The Golden Rules
Saying yes to everything your kids ask for sounds terrifying! But all you have to do is set a couple of ground rules (basic ones: you can’t only eat sweets and you can’t do anything that could physically hurt you – or anyone else) and kids are usually very happy to comply, and work within the boundaries. Older kids understand the rules and the repercussions pretty well (no more “Yes Days” if you can’t follow the rules!).
And for younger kids, we’ve heard that families who have had successful “Yes Days” have employed a simple trick – plant ideas in their heads. Read the book with them, and they’ll get inspired by that little boy (he wants to have pizza for breakfast, use his mom’s hair gel, stay up late, leave his room messy, eat ice cream).
Or ask them leading questions in the days leading up to your “Yes Day”. Something like: “So, if on Yes Day, you asked me if you could have pancakes for supper, what would I have to say?” Chances are pretty high that your kids will giggle, chorus “YES!” and then actually ask for pancakes for dinner!
It’s also often surprising and refreshing to discover what kids want on any given day; it’s usually something as simple as an ice cream, a pillow fight, a carousel ride or a few extra books at bedtime!
A Very Merry Un-Birthday
The thing about “Yes Day” is that kids really, really love it. They’ll be begging for a weekly “Yes Day” if you don’t set it up from the get-go as a special occasion. Like a “once a year” rule (or once a month, if you’re far braver than anyone around here!) One easy way to do it is to pick a day (an un-birthday, if you will) when they could use a treat – perhaps a half-birthday, the last Saturday before school starts, or a Saturday at the end of July (a summer Christmas!) or something like that. (The reason we suggest Saturdays is that almost every single kid will pick staying up late, so a Saturday night when you have no school all day and no reason to get up early in the morning is perfect!).
It’s also nice to designate a “Yes Day” a little bit before it happens – the anticipation is half the fun!
Say Yes More Often!
Part of saying yes is the empowerment of your kids – so let “Yes Day” be an inspiration! You can make up your own holidays… ask your kiddo if there’s a holiday they’d like to invent and how they’d like to celebrate. You’ll be amazed at their creativity, and inspired by their ideas.
What do you think of this idea of a “Yes” Day? Have you tried it in your household? Share your experiences with us in the comment section below.
— Meghan Rose
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