According to Christine Louise Hohlbaum, mother of two and author of SAHM I Am: Tales of a Stay-at-Home Mom in Europe, kids can enjoy a positive atmosphere with limits so the parents aren't run ragged.
"Being more positive with kids is a wonderful goal for which we must all strive. It lets them know they are loved, safe, and wanted," she says, noting that this attitude can be phased in along with the normal routines and rules.
While on vacation, Hohlbaum and her husband wanted to make it a "yes week," but they quickly noticed their young children struggled with the sudden permissiveness. "They did not really want us to say yes to ice cream at 9 AM even if they thought they did in the very moment they asked. They felt lost, and without boundaries we noticed how uncomfortable they felt. My son acted up, my daughter became cranky and we realized the 'week of yes' meant saying yes to loving discipline, even on vacation," says Hohlbaum, who lives in Paunzhausen, Germany.
She has tips on saying yes while keeping the limits clear: Give a timeframe. For example, when your child asks for something and it can't be done or given immediately, offer a time and then a frame of reference. Set a timer if the child doesn't know how to tell time.
- Ask your child the consequence of your saying yes. If a child asks for chocolate shortly after sunrise, ask him, "How will you feel when your tummy eats chocolate first thing?" Everything can be a learning experience, according to Hohlbaum.
- Ask for help. Ask you child to "help get a yes" by cleaning up a room first, for example.
- Remember down time. Your household can be more harmonious when everyone gets what they need, such as adults who sometimes need downtime. Institute a daily quiet time of about 30 minutes. Children can be taught to play quietly, sleep, read, or color without interruption during this time.
- Do the "yes, yes, yes" exercise. Gather your children into a circle, scoop up positive energy, and shower yourselves with it as you continuously exclaim "yes!" The positive energy that is created is undeniable! "And we usually end up laughing," says Hohlbaum.
Hohlbaum adds that sometimes parents must say no. "Children don't need to know every single reason for your actions. That's an endless game which you, the parent, will lose. There need to be boundaries, even ones that are not explained," she concludes.