When Joe was first identified as having special needs, we did the typical kneejerk reaction of doing All The Research and implementing All The Services. We placed him in a special preschool and we dutifully attended all of the meetings, seminars, support groups, playgroups and other activities as much as we possibly could.
Joe made zero progress at that place and we removed him after a year.
However, Himself and meself learned a lot about parenting a special needs child. Or any child, actually, as the same stuff -a lot of which is plain common sense- works for typical kids, too. So we don't consider that year wasted at all. Joe made no progress, but we made HUGE progress, which of course, benefitted both kids over the long term.
The particular advice referenced in the title was learned in a seminar on special needs parenting. I can't remember the woman's name, which is unfortunate as I think I owe her my sanity. I would like to have credited her with that.
The advice went like this:
"Think very carefully before you say "No"".
She then expanded: ""No" can turn into a battle very easily and come down to a battle of wills; a quest for control. If there is any way that you might be browbeaten and harrangued into changing your mind, just say "yes" upfront. That way you retain control of the situation and are still the boss."
The other part of this -an essential part- is the conditional yes.
"Mom? Can I have a cookie?"
"Sure! Right after you finish your dinner"
So not saying no, but placing a condition and onus on the kid.
That seminar was probably 12 years ago and I have lived this advice for all that time. It has worked well for me. There have definitely been times when "no" has been n the tip of my tongue, but I asked myself do I really want to do this now? Do I really want to have a Big Battle over this insignificant-in-the-greater-scheme-of-things ...thing NOW? And the answer was usually "No". No I didn't want that battle. So I said "yes". And the world didn't end because I caved. Mainly because the kid didn't know that I'd caved. He (or she) just heard "yes" and went off happy.
People might think this approach turns you into a complete pushover. It doesn't. The kids learn when they can ask for stuff and they learn that there are usually responsibilities to fulfill before they get stuff. It also makes for a lot less fights and power struggles. And of course, I will still say "no" to the big stuff and stand my ground quite happily on those issues. It's mainly the small stuff that's a default "yes". I pick my battles.
And because the default word in our house is "yes" rather than "no"; this makes for an overall more positive environment. These things are pervasive.
Finally, -at least once- this parenting trick provided a stranger in the supermarket with a good laugh. Grace was then around three:
"Mom can I have a puppy?"
"Sure! When you're 35."