How to say YES when your brain says NO!

Part of you longs to know how to say Yes to your child or grandchild. I know this because I doubt you’d be here otherwise. The thing is, depending on how much of your life you’ve spent in the habit of responding with No, you might find it a tricky change to make.

Saying Yes can be simple and beautiful. It can open up an enriched experience of life with our children and create opportunities for joy, peace and connection.

Do you ever get stuck when you try and work out how to say Yes? Maybe you can think of a variety of Yes responses to something your child is doing but then your rational brain kicks in with all sorts of reasons to revert to No.

Let me show you 4 Yes responses to the rejections our rational mind throws up.

A member of my Facebook Group shared a beautiful post a couple of days ago about a breakthrough moment in her family when it came to saying Yes. Here is what she wrote:

Saying YES.

Our 9 month old is more inquisitive than his older brother was at the same age so we’re not accustomed to having child locks and such on our cupboards so it was only a matter of time before he found something we’d rather he hadn’t.

Yesterday that thing was an entire pack of porridge oats but instead of saying NO upon discovering the mess we said YES to a bit of impromptu sensory learning for both kids. It was a complete mess but you know what? It only took ten minutes to clear up after they’d finished. No biggy.

I read this with huge excitement and pleasure. I absolutely LOVE when people begin to connect with the joy and simplicity that comes when they say Yes.

Yes to oats!What surprised me were some of the responses to the post, mainly in private messages – concerns about the cost of the wastage, that these children won’t develop healthy boundaries, that if there are no consequences to the actions then the children will just do it again.

On reflection, I realise that the journey to Yes takes time and practise and patience. It took me years to get clear about how, why and when to say Yes. Small realisations like this example with the oats build a parent’s confidence and trust in Yes Parenting. They begin to see that saying Yes opens up possibilities and opportunities for play, discovery, joy, connection, collaboration, adventure, experience and learning.

I can respond to each of the concerns with a huge Yes response!

1. Say Yes to the value of the experience.

Regarding the cost of the wastage – when we shift our perspective to the value of the experience then there was no cost or wastage at all. The children had a wonderful sensory experience. They learned that exploration can lead to great things.

2. Say Yes to a practical way todo it again.

If our children particularly delight in the sensory play with the oats then we can have a big tupperware of ‘play oats’ that we can get out any time we want to.

3. Say Yes by controlling the environment, not the child.

The Mum in question clearly says that this is a new incident for them because her eldest child didn’t explore in cupboards. So Mum can easily say Yes to her 9 month old’s exploration by deciding where is, and isn’t, appropriate for exploring. Child-locks on lower cupboards or keeping child friendly things in low cupboards instead.

4. Say Yes to challenging your assumptions.

There are many play activities that involve food that we don’t question – largely because we, as adults, are in charge of how and when they happen. Consider play dough, potato stamping, cornflour paste, rice lucky dip, potion making, glue and stick pasta pictures etc.


This Mum now has a new insight into enjoyable activities for both her children. She could, if she wanted, buy a couple of bags of rice to throw in the bath to let her kids sit and play. Or she might see if they’d like to get messy in the garden with oats mixed with water – the children would have fun while also learning through play about materials, properties and textures. Basic chemistry, basically.

The biggest Yes is the joy and connection within the relationships. We cannot underestimate how important connection is for each and every one of us, especially our children who are yet to develop sophisticated mechanisms for managing disconnection.

It took me a long time to really flow with saying Yes. I am so glad I persevered because now it comes so easily, except on the odd occasion when I turn to my sons and ask, “Can you help me find the Yes to this situation because all I’m coming up with is NO?!”

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the story of the oats or your own personal experience of trying to say Yes. Does your rational brain kick in with all sorts of reasons not to go for it? Come and find me on Facebook or send me an email.

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