The Power of No: Swimming Against the Tide

In my last blog I introduced the book, “No: Why Kids of All Ages Need to Hear It” by Dr. David Walsh. His basic thesis is that we need to help our children develop the important character traits of self discipline and self control by using the word “no” from time to time. If our children are always getting what they want instantly they will not develop the patience, perseverance, and commitment needed to become successful when life gets tough.

Walsh states in the book, “If our kids can’t delay gratification, rein in their drive for pleasure, handle setbacks, put other people’s needs on par with their own, and manage their emotions, they reduce the likelihood of creating a happy, productive life for themselves.” (pg 36)

Part of the problem is that our culture (western) has become obsessed with instant gratification. Adults are having a harder time saying no to their kids today because we are swimming in a “Yes” culture where “No” has become a four letter word. A big part of the “yes” culture has come from the fact that our kids spend more time learning about life through electronic media than any other activity.

Unfortunately what comes along with the electronic media is a constant barrage of advertising which is telling children that they need something more and that they need it now. There are three overriding themes that are pushed by the “Yes” culture of today: More, Fast, and Easy/Fun (pg 30). It is not hard to find statistics that show the affects that this is having on our children:

  • Children today spend 500% more than their parents did at the same age – and yes that is adjusted for inflation. (pg 16)
  • The average college student today has four credit cards and more than three thousand dollars in credit card debt. (pg 16)

So what does all this mean, do we purposefully make it hard on our children by always saying no to them? No, of course not, but if all our children are ever hearing is yes we may be doing them an incredible injustice. It is definitely harder for parents to say no today and if it seems like you are swimming against the tide when you try to teach your children self control and self discipline, it’s because you are.

Swimming against the tide is very tiring but don’t give up. It will be hard to say no (especially if they have not heard it for a while), but your willingness to say it at the appropriate times will give your children the tools needed to become successful in this ever changing and difficult world.

Karl Steinkamp
Blog #51
Day 80


2 thoughts on “The Power of No: Swimming Against the Tide

  1. Love this idea. You could also say it this way, “I will say yes when. . . . ” which allows you to give them a task or expectation that upon completion you are able to say “yes.”


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