I had an opportunity to re-think something important today.
My daughter and I were at the playground. She was spinning alone, at her own happy pace, on a merry-go-round.
After only 30 seconds or so of being on it, a bigger boy ran up to her spinning contraption and said, "Hey, can you slow that down? I want to get on."
She responded plainly, "No." He stood there for a moment, seemingly surprised by her response.
My natural "people pleaser" instinct kicked in. I really, really wanted to say something like, "Oh, this is a big merry-go-round! Let's let him on, or if you don't want to be on it with him, you can get off and then come back later."
All sorts of lies flooded my mind: "You have to be nice." "It's not polite not to share." ... It was as if someone had been whispering in my ear what it means to be a "good girl."
Lies. Who said she wasn't being nice?
"Nice" can sometimes sound like "no."
My parenting guardian angel (I presume) told me, right in that moment, to pause. Wait and see how SHE, my daughter, would handle it. Only a split second later (and without my having said a word despite all my internal dialogue), she added for the boy, "If you want to wait a minute, you can. I don't plan to be on long and then you can have a turn."
To his credit, he smiled and responded, "No problem! I don't mind. I'll go do something else until you're done." Happily, he jogged off and, indeed, found something else to do.
My child isn't a girl who needs to be taught to "be nice" or "be polite" or whatnot.
My child needs to know that she gets to say "no," and that others will accept it gracefully.
My child needs to know that even if they don't accept it gracefully, she STILL gets to have her "no."
Sometimes we all have a need to be alone on our version of the merry-go-round, and it doesn't make us rude, or impolite, or selfish, or anything of the sort.
It teaches us that we get to have boundaries.
Children get to have boundaries.
Childhood is when they learn to express them.
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I am not a physician, psychologist, or counselor, nor am I licensed to offer therapy or medical advice of any kind. I am a certified conscious parenting coach and my courses, blog posts, and all other guidance are based on my training and experience. If you are having an emergency or are in crisis please call 911, or the National Suicide Prevention Line (800-273-8255), or text the Crisis Text Line at 741741.
Sarah R. Moore
Sarah R. Moore is a certified Master Parenting Trainer, an author (book coming soon), an armchair neuroscientist, and most importantly, a Mama. She's a lifelong learner with formal training in child development, improv comedy, trauma recovery, and interpersonal neurobiology. She offers a popular series of mini-courses (including her FREE video, Three Keys to Positive Parenting). She helps bring JOY, EASE, and CONNECTION back to families.
You can follow her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. She’s currently worldschooling her family.