My first year teaching I had a class of thirty students. I worked with them all year, and was asked daily whether or not they could make paper airplanes during math or eat their lollipop that accidentally fell into their backpack at school.
And yet, for the entire insane requests, at the most inappropriate times, I only said no three times.
All year, I avoided saying the dreaded NO like the plague.
And the few times I did say it, the class came to a screeching halt.
It wasn’t that I was compliant.
It wasn’t that I was a “Yes Man.”
I became an expert at saying no without actually saying it. I had a handful of easy responses. They either distracted the kid from what they wanted, or pointed out how it couldn’t possibly happen.
- “So you’re asking me to break a rule.”
- “You already know the answer to that question.”
- “I wonder what we’d need to make that happen. Write me a list and we’ll talk about it later.”
- “I got a lot going on right now. Can we talk about this later?”
- “Great idea, but wrong time to ask. Lets talk about it later.”
- “Do you see my face right now? Does this seem to be like the right time to ask me for something special?”
If your kid continues to push, repeat yourself. And try to avoid arguing AT ALL COSTS!
Asking for things is all about timing. If it’s the right time, you get a yes. When it’s the wrong timing you’ll get an absolute no.
One of the key things I teach my students is when is the appropriate time to ask for something. I want to make sure their paying attention to what’s going on with me, and with the people around them.
Getting what you want is paying attention to your timing.
I had a class meeting when a child explained it like this, “Asking for something is all about timing. It’s like a cat stalking its prey. It waits for a long time. It knows what it wants. I can wait for right for just the right moment to make it happen. Like a cat.”
Your children can learn a lot from pets. So can we.