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Why This One Little Word Is Your Best Friend Forever

According to Dr. Sears, if you use this word too many times, it will "cripple" your child's self-discipline. Additional research shows that hearing the word too many times can adversely impact intelligence. Studies also show it can lead to poorer language skills and—best-case scenario—simply become ineffective.

And the horrible word in question?


At this point, the word "no" has such a bad rep that there are a plethora of articles written for desperate parents on how to say "no" without actually saying "no."

RELATED: Why I Say "Yes" More to My Kids

Instead, we're supposed to use more descriptive words, like "ouch," when our child slaps us in the face or makes a move to cuddle with the oven, so that they understand the negative consequences of their actions. Or we're supposed to remove opportunities for behavior that might elicit a "no," moving breakables out of reach and moving the cat food to a better location. Or we're supposed to reframe our "no" as a "yes." (God, my head is spinning.)

But lately, I'm finding that the word "no" is the best possible tool in my arsenal if I want to maintain my sanity.

And its usefulness is something I want to eventually teach my daughter.

I eventually became used to the idea that saying "no" to certain things would allow me to say "yes" to the things that really mattered

So I stopped going to those three new-mom groups and the mommy and me yoga classes and the mommy and me story time. And I withdrew from my Toastmasters club. And I briefly considered joining a local choir before coming to my senses and realizing I was being an insane person. With everything else I was doing, I just didn't have the bandwidth to keep saying yes to every activity. Even the previously fun ones had begun to feel like dreaded obligations.

So when a former fellow Toastmasters member emailed me the other day to say, "We neeeed yoooouuuuuu." I was all, "NOPE."

GIF via Tumblr

And I started saying no to social invitations that conflicted with Em's nap times. Because while I don't want to isolate myself just because I've become a parent, there's also nothing fun and/or relaxing about going out to lunch with a friend, Em by my side, slowly approaching full meltdown mode.

And when my employer/friend asked me if I could sub her yoga class the following afternoon because she was going to be on vacation, I put my foot down. Even though I hate saying no. Even though I have a hard time saying no. Even though I always want to be someone people can rely on. Because it's hard enough being a WAHM without having to derail my to-do list with a midday teaching session.

I started saying no to my husband, too, when he'd ask me to watch TV with him. I started breaking up with my regular TV shows willy-nilly. Because, while a half hour to an hour of TV is fine, three hours is a waste of my time. No, no, no. I need to make time for reading when our daughter is asleep, or my brain will turn to mush and leak out of several orifices.

RELATED: Teaching My Kid to Say 'Please' Bit Me in the Butt

I eventually became used to the idea that saying no to certain things would allow me to say yes to the things that really mattered:

My personal yoga practice.

Books. Lots of them.


Daily meditation.

My daughter.

My sanity.

So I urge you to stop demonizing the word "no." Embrace this word. Let it serve you well.

And let your child see how it can be a positive, too. A useful tool. A means of reframing a seemingly negative word to actually mean "yes."

A big fat "yes" to yourself.

GIF via Tumblr

Learn it. Internalize it. Say it.

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