YES, And…

Sometimes I feel like a real downer when I say NO to my kids too often.

 

  • “No, you can’t play with the play-doh. It’s too messy.”
  • “No, you can’t have more juice. You’ll get a tummy ache.”
  • “No, you can’t have a sleepover with your sister. You two will be up all night talking.”
  • “No, I won’t play that game with you right now. I’m too tired.”

 

On a recent visit from LA, my sister taught my girls and me a game called, “Yes, And…” The idea comes from her background in theatre in which “Yes, And…” is a basic improvisational technique.

 

In the game, one person begins a story and then the next person says, “Yes, And…” and continues the story however they choose. Rather than negate or argue about what the person before you has said (no matter how outlandish or unrealistic it sounds), you just have to go with it, thereby validating each person's part of the story and building upon it.

 

Here's an example of how it might work:

Person A: “Once upon a time, there was a unicorn who loved cake.”
Person B: “Yes, and he decided to open his own bakery in New York City.”
Person A: “Yes, and there was a leak in the ceiling and all the cakes got wet.”
Person B: “Yes, and…”

 

As opposed to:
Person A: “Once upon a time, there was a unicorn who loved cake.”
Person B: “No, there wasn't. There's no such thing as a unicorn.”

 

At first, this game was a bit challenging for Marissa, my 7-year-old. She wanted to control the story and quickly tried to change the details, especially when Dalia, 3, would whip up some really imaginative character or plot twist.

 

After a while, though, Marissa embraced the concept when she realized that saying YES could lead to some positive and surprising results. For example, she used her imagination more, there was no arguing about whose version was “right” or “better,” nobody’s feelings got hurt, and everyone had fun.

 

Perhaps the most unexpected outcome for me was recognizing myself in Marissa. As I watched her struggle with the game, I began to appreciate that her difficulty letting go of control and saying YES to someone else’s agenda or idea was identical to my own struggles as a mom.

 

Sure, there are plenty of instances when saying NO is warranted – when my child’s safety is at risk, for example. But how many times was I saying NO simply because I felt inconvenienced or anxious about what might happen if I said YES?

 

 

In the past few weeks, I’ve started saying YES a whole lot more. In fact, I’ve said YES to such things as play-doh, juice, sleepovers, and playing…to name a few.

 

  • The play-doh was messy, but it got cleaned up.
  • I allowed a little more juice, but also set a limit that afterwards they would only drink water. They agreed.
  • We tried the sleepover, but it didn’t work out the way they had hoped. Marissa wanted to go to sleep and Dalia kept talking and getting out of bed. We tried again the next night and they both fell asleep quickly and quietly.
  • When I’m feeling tired or unmotivated to play, I try to say YES more often because I know that my relationship with my daughters benefits tremendously when I do. I also know that if I regularly say NO, they might eventually stop asking me to spend time with them.

 

Saying YES allows my girls to try new things and develop their sense of independence. If I had said NO to the sleepover, neither of my girls would have learned anything. Saying YES gave them the opportunity to see for themselves how talking at bedtime can present a problem — especially when one of them wants to go to sleep.

 

This week, try saying YES when your child makes a request to do something that you might ordinarily say NO to because it feels inconvenient, bothersome, or boring to you. You will surprise your kids and maybe even surprise yourself!

 

What kinds of requests do you find yourself saying NO to a lot? When have you said YES instead and what was the outcome? Please leave a comment below and let us know. Don’t forget to “like” this post and share it with your friends, too. We all could use LESS DRAMA in our lives!

Comments
  • Hope Shasha
    Reply

    Another great article from Less Drama More Mama! Xo, Hope

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