Mommy and Daddy Are Always Supposed to Say Yes … Aren’t They?


Most popular child-rearing books today encourage parents to make building their child's self-esteem their number-one goal. Parents are advised to give children of all ages – even toddlers – a lot of choices and "say." However, many parents who have adopted this approach find their children becoming self-centered, spoiled, and less respectful of adults and other children. Teachers complain about even very young children wanting their way, arguing with them, having no empathy toward others, and refusing to apologize. Parents are starting to question whether this approach is too permissive.

Many parents are becoming increasingly concerned about their children's behavior. Their children ignore, refuse, and negotiate with them, being rude and sometimes relentless unless things go their way. It's hard for parents to be happy with a child who is pushing their boundaries all the time. Parents become frustrated and angry with their children. As children sense this, their self-esteem decreases – resulting in an outcome exactly the opposite from what their parents hoped for. While parents want high self-esteem for their children, they wonder how to prevent these troublesome and unacceptable behaviors.

Most contemporary child-rearing books fail to explain that parents should give young children only a little bit of choice and say. As their age and life experience increase, children can be given more and more say – especially if you have helped them to become thoughtful decision-makers and problem-solvers instead of little royalty who expect to control everything in their lives.

Self-esteem does not develop because a child has a lot of choice and say. It blossoms when he learns acceptable behavior so he doesn’t need constant correction from others, and when he acquires sufficient competence that he doesn’t feel less capable than his peers. Self-esteem comes from developing competence in many areas.

When parents have difficulty saying no

Difficulties can arise when one or both parents feel bad about saying no to their children. There can be many reasons for this: not wanting to disappoint your child, wishing to avoid confrontations, wanting to treat him as an equal, or wanting him to like you, to be your friend.  The busyness of daily life can make you feel guilty that you are not giving your child adequate attention. Then when you are together, you may find it hard to refuse him anything. There can be many other reasons, too – some stemming from your own childhood. Perhaps you felt your parents never listened to you, and you don’t want to repeat that with your children. It is also common to have differences with your spouse about child-rearing, usually about how much say your child should have.

Some of the other topics you’ll read about in the book are:

  • Why children test limits
  • Why children think parents should say yes
  • Balancing your needs and your child’s
  • Being assertive
  • When parents fail to work as a team

Perfecting Parenting Press 2015