It’s OK To Say No
As a Kindergarten teacher I come to work each day faced with millions of questions. It has become second nature to me to say both “yes” and a whole lot of “no’s” to them. As the holidays come closer I find that I tend to say yes more often then not. Maybe it’s because the children become more persistent or that I feel too tired at times to tow the line with them by saying no when I should. As hard as it is to say no, at the end of the day, I know I can send them home to their parents and feel confident that by the next day my class will have forgotten most of my no’s and yet, they never forget when I had said yes and perhaps shouldn’t have. In fact they remind me every day in words like “but yesterday you said we could take out the glitter. Why not today?…” It becomes hard to take back all the yes’s.
Recently one of my students has been having whirlwind tantrums. When his Mom showed up one day she asked me in a concerned voice, “How do I tell him that his behavior is not ok without him thinking that I am mad at him?” I thought back to what I was told in pre-camp and answered her with an old Sue McMullan saying, “Just tell him you love him but you want him to change his behavior (and how).” It seemed too simple to this Mom, but she tried it with impressive results. She had said no while still extending her love. Sure it’s easier to say yes when you are tired from all the holiday parties and in the winter when the kids are cooped up in the house all day but what I am really trying to say is that children need as many boundaries as they do hugs! They will remember the hugs forever.
by Whitney McMullan, ALCer ’83 – ’00, ’02-’03, ’05-’08
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