Parenting Tip: Say Yes to Everything

One of the unintended consequences of nine days (NINE DAYS!) of all of us living in one small hotel room is Alden’s exposure to commercial television.

Do not misunderstand. We love TV. I’m not going to even pretend. Our kids watch at least some TV almost every day. They watch Nick Jr and PBS and Disney Jr. They also watch Monster Truck Jam and Dancing With the Stars. Through the magic of Tivo, though, the knuckleheads almost never see a commercial.

It would take a mother made of much sterner stuff than I am to deny my kids the TV while we were on vacation. Not only did I let them watch, I encouraged them to watch. An hour of Jake and the Neverland Pirates was sometimes all the stood in the way of me forcibly turning them into Lost Boys and hightailing it back to Knoxville.

So, commercials. To Alden, this was information on countless ways to make his life more wonderful. The first few days I spent a lot of time belaboring points about equity and privilege, thrift and values. Every 12 minutes I delivered a new lecture.

Then, as I tried to reason a 4-year-old out of Dragonball Z or Transformers or Robot Killers from Space, Damon just said, “Sure! You can totally have that!” And the conversation was over. Then another commercial. Another request. Another approval.

That was the key. “Yes” to everything. Every. Single. Thing. Just hearing that he could have that toy discharged his interest, and we were on to the next thing. He was so happy, and he instantly forgot each toy as it vanished off the screen. I tried the same thing as we flew home, with the Sky Mall magazine. To everything he liked, which was everything, I said, “Sure, you can have that.” We got off the plane, and he left the magazine behind.

I absolutely cannot believe that worked. I know it won’t forever. It sure does buy us some peace, though, at the moment.

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9 responses to this post.

  1. Now I want to watch television with Damon just so I can have someone gleefully say Yes! to me every 12 minutes.

    Reply

  2. I very much like this technique of which you speak. Since Alden is not yet a consumer who can make purchases with debit or credit cards, you can tell him later on — should he bring up said pre-approved desired objects — that whatever he wanted was “sold out” or on “backorder”. It’s not like he is then gonna trump you and call the order in with a customer service number.

    Reply

  3. Now, just hope that the next time he sees said items, he won’t throw a fit about you not having gotten them for him yet. 😉

    Reply

  4. Posted by Elaine Evans on October 27, 2011 at 11:53 pm

    So Zen, finally! We used this approach, i.e., lying, to deflect our preschoolers’ fleeting desires for whatever we sped past on the road 20 years ago. You know: that dark time when “McDonald’s was closed.”

    Reply

  5. Posted by Amelia on October 28, 2011 at 1:34 am

    My boss used to tell her kids “five more minutes” every time they asked how much longer no matter how long there was left in the trip. It always amused me.

    Reply

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