I have recently had the opportunity of watching my first grandchild begin exerting his 'no' muscle. Many moons ago when I was parenting my own toddlers, that consistent 'no' was sometimes... shall we say...a little annoying. But this time around I see it in a much more positive light. Though I could attribute it to being older and wiser, it is actually something I learned in my counseling studies.
Being able to say no is the first verbal boundary children learn. They communicate what they don't like, don't want, and won't do, often with fervor. It can seem like they are on a 'no' power trip, and in a sense they are. How important it is for parents to honor that no; as long as the safety of the child, or anyone else, is not compromised. It is setting the stage for the child to say no in the future when someone else is threatening their safety or integrity. Just as important a task for parents is to help their child learn to respect others' boundaries. Learning to say 'no', as well as accept 'no', are building blocks for living a life with healthy boundaries.
If you are interested in learning more about boundaries, I highly recommend Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend/s wonderful classic, Boundaries. If you apply it's principles, it can change your life for the better.
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