When a child says “NO” to you.

Do you get annoyed or angry when your child says “No” to you. “No” from a child can feel like a threat and it’s because of this. Power differential, status, and ego. Those on the lower rungs of the hierarchy ladder (Children, among others) are not expected to, or allowed to have much of their own voice…especially not in opposition to those with more power.

It is seen as a serious challenge and threat to the status of the more powerful one to be told “no”. It’s a threat for a “lower status” person to be assertive with “higher status” person. It is an affront to those who have more (unchecked) power to have someone with less power dictate a situation, or assert autonomy (even over their own bodies).

This is it. This is why the “no” can feel like such a threat. It’s almost like the only two options become: Are you going to uphold the prevailing assumptions of power and ego and make the child do what you want? Or, are you going to let the child get away with being RUDE and “disrespectful” to you?

This is why the NO, can be so challenging for parents. It’s because of an unexamined millenia old assumption based on what who holds the power and what they are allowed to do with it. That’s it. But real influence is not built on such a fragile foundation. Real leadership is about relationship, mutual respect, humility… and leading by example.

“No” is not a threat, it is your child showing independence, assertiveness, and autonomy. Those are good things. It’s also an opportunity for you to understand what is going on for your child, to open a dialogue, to guide with a leadership based more on relationship than unchecked power.

If you are bothered by a direct “no” from a child, take some time to think about all of this. Why does the “no” bother you so? And would you like to learn a different way?

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