I have turned into the mother I swore I would never be: The No Queen. As proof, here are some sentences that came out of my mouth a few mornings ago: "No, you can't watch another TV show," "No pinching Mommy," "No, cookies are not for breakfast," and "No?...?stop?...?please don't spit choco-late milk onto your sister!" And all of this transpired before 9 a.m.
The worst part is that my incessant use of the word has, well, no impact on my daughters, Blair, 4, and Drew, 2.
"That's because kids become 'No-deaf,'?" explains Ann Douglas, author of The Mother of All Parenting Books. "It becomes meaningless to them."
She's right. My "No" -- though firm and appropriately ominous -- doesn't stop Drew from dousing me with water every time she takes a bath, which drives me even crazier. (Was it Albert Einstein who said the definition of "insanity" is using "No" over and over again to your kids and expecting a different result?) Plus, saying it makes me feel as if I'm always raining on my girls' parades. Which, in a sense, I am.
"Overusing the word 'No' tells a child, 'Don't explore, don't touch, don't experiment, don't take risks,'?" says Jane Nelsen, author of Positive Discipline for Preschoolers. That's not to say you should stop correcting your kid or setting limits. Your task is to think of ways to mean "No" without actually saying it.
Removing the word from my vocabulary seems slightly more difficult than cutting off a finger. But I'm intrigued by the challenge, so I announce to my husband, Thad, that we're embarking upon a weeklong "Just Say No to No" experiment.