Stop Telling Your Kids No.


Just imagine you are cooking dinner for your family.  Veggies steaming, chicken in the oven and you’re peeling the potatoes to make your families favorite mashed potatoes.  And your 4 year old comes in to the kitchen and says “Can I have a cookie?” How do you respond?  I mean, of course he can’t have a coookie! Can’t he see your cooking dinner!  Can’t he see how hard you’re working? He NEVER gets a cookie before dinner so who would he even ask?!?

Take and breath and respond with YES….

You read that right, I said yes. But hold on…. Keep reading. Try the sentence “Yes you can have a cookie…After dinner”.

When you say no to your child over and over, it loses it’s importance. When you say yes, it not not pit you against your child and they hear that their request is important.

Sounds simple right. What about when they are a teenager and want to borrow your car? You have choices.

“Yes you can borrow the car tomorrow”

“yes you can borrow the car, don’t forget to put gas in it”

“Yes you can borrow the car when you _______ and show me you are responsible”

“Yes you can borrow the car, after you__________”

This simple change in language likely will enhance your relationship with your little one providing less argumentative conversations and more connection.


About the Author

Nicole Chambers is a local Maple Ridge Counsellor and has over 15 years experience  working with children from age 6 weeks+. She is also a trained birth & postpartum Doula, Childbirth Educator and Placenta Encapsulation Specialist and Early Childhood Educator specializing in prenatal anxiety and loss.   She’s trained in Nobody’s Perfect parenting, Hand in Hand Parenting, Expressive Play Therapy and continues to take courses on child development, trauma, birth and adolescence.

The importance of unstructured play

A report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is very clear that scheduled activities should not come at the expense of free unstructured play.  Unstructured play is so important to the developing child’s brain. Well, this is sure hard to follow through with as a parent.  As a parent I’m constantly asked what activity my child is in. While I understand the need to ask this typical socially acceptable question, it often comes with a judgment of your child being in too many activities or not enough activities. It is so challenging to offer both scheduled activities and allow your child to run and play with freedom.

My question is, if unstructured play is so beneficial for children then why are our first graders sitting in their desks reading and writing the entire time?  This is a challenge for schools and parents to find the balance that allows all children to reach their potential while allowing them unstructured free time. Isn’t play the most reliable form of self education? Isn’t this what the school district is wanting?

What are the benefits of unstructured play?

  • Play is important to healthy development of the brain
  • Play that is not directed helps children learn how to work collaboratively, to share, to negotiate and to resolve conflicts
  • When play is child-driven, children put into practice decision-making skills, move at their own pace (and this is different from child to child), they discover their own interests organically and ultimately engage fully.

Now lets talk Arts and Crafts. Crafts are my nemesis…. “No Johnny, the eyeball on the dog needs to by put here beside the other eye ball” How creative (insert eye roll).  What about dumping a pile of recycling on the table and saying “CREATE!” Not only are we helping their self confidence but they are also cognitively and physically growing by this simple example of art (not crafting) Fine motor skills involve movements of the fingers, hands and wrists. Strong fine motor skills help children manipulate small objects and eventually type, cut, tie, sew and do other complex activities that require working with the small muscles of the hands. So if they have this ability early in their school days they will have better penmanship, more accurate typing skills, problem solving skills and the children learn to make a plan and execute their ideas.


Parents Bill of Rights

Parent’s bill of Rights

• We, as parents, have a right to be treated with respect.

• We have the right to say no and not feel guilty.

• We have the right to know where our kids are, who their friends are, and who they are with at any time.

• We have the right to demonstrate we care by occasionally verifying or spot checking our children’s whereabouts. We may, for example, call host parents on parties or overnight stays. • We have the right to set a curfew and to sit down and talk to our kids about our decision.

• We have the right to make mistakes and/or change our minds.

• We have the right to ask questions about all things which may affect our children.

• We have the right to monitor all school related activities: academic, behavioral, and social.

• We have the right to consult with adults who influence our children’s lives, i.e., coaches, employers, teachers, youth group leaders, ministers, and counsellors.

• We have the right to assign our children chores and other family responsibilities appropriate to their ages.

• We have a right to promote time together

• I have the right to be treated with respect and to treat others with respect

• I have the right to make mistakes and to apologize

• I have the right to laugh, cry, share and show my feelings





How I reconnected with my husband

This weekend my daughter had an overnight away from us; away from mom and dad. This was the second time in over 6 years that the both of us had had a night just to be a couple. The last time, I was breastfeeding and our 18 month old stayed with her Auntie and Uncle. As much as she loved playing and hanging out with them the overnight time was a disaster. Lots of tears and not a lot of sleeping.  This time she was older, and the overnight was her choice, an overnight event that she really wanted to go to.


So the planning commenced. After we planned how the day would go, and what our daughter was bringing, we started to plan what WE were going to do as a couple. Twenty-four hours felt like forever. We wanted to go to The city, go for a hike, drink delicious coffee, watch our favorite shows, have some uninterrupted “us time” and have a romantic dinner. We wanted to talk about goals, future holidays, life, careers, hobbies, getting healthy. We had SO much we wanted to do.


My husband and I work long hours. Doula work is unpredictable in nature and I have a day job as a counsellor. My husband supports the family with his day job, evening job and acting career (another unpredictable job).  We are REALLY busy. The moments we have together as just the 3 of us, are very mindful; We plan them right down to the food we will eat because we don’t want to waste any time on those decisions. Spending time just the 2 of us is challenging. We simply don’t have a lot of extra time.

imageAfter we dropped off our daughter we started our adventure right away: with the dog already in the car we went for a hike. Hiking isn’t new to our family but we often don’t get very far with a small child collecting leaves and making her own paths through the forest. Sometimes we can see the parking lot the entire hike. We are okay with that as parents, but as a couple we chose a path and chose to complete the hike. As it wasn’t incredibly far, we had some great chats, had lunch on a creek side while staring at a snow covered mountain and we laughed. Oh, we laughed. Not at the humorous things our daughter does or says, but laughed because we were having a great time. We laughed together.


We had so many big plans for the day, and the hike was the most adventurous part. The rest of the day we spent at home, in our pajamas, hanging out. It reminded me of times 14 years ago when we weren’t married. It reminded me of the reasons I love this man, of the laughs we’ve shared. We ate delicious food, we watched Netflix and we chilled. Then we napped. It was joyous. We went to bed at the same time and we woke up together not because we had to for work or because our daughter woke us, but because we were well rested. What a novelty!


We reminded ourselves this weekend that it’s important to remember our relationship when kids are little.Sometimes we get caught up in being Mommy and Daddy and forget we are Husband and Wife.


When we picked up our daughter and arrived home we got right back in the habit of laundry, housecleaning and all those parental responsibilities that come along with being a parent.  All of these tasks are important, of course, but they are much easier to do now that we’ve had 24 blissful hours of self care and relationship time. Something we will make a priority for next time, something we will plan for next time and something we cherish this time.