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Is “No” negative discipline?

Hypothetically, it’s a typical Wednesday morning, and four mothers and respective toddlers arrive at the park. The kids are excited, running around on pudgy legs, exploring jungle gyms and sandboxes. Right away, any chance of adult social interaction or intelligent conversation gets cut short.
It’s time to save the lives of children and avoid any trips to the emergency room that might affect getting dinner on the table at a decent hour.
Imagine your son scoops up sand and tosses it at other kids. He throws sand in the air, puts it in his mouth, rubs it through his hair and drops it down his pants. “Jacob, NO,” you say sternly. And a silence cuts the air like an awkward dinner conversation with you husband’s boss. You look at your friends to see glares of horror and disapproval. It hits you: your parenting peers see the word NO as forbidden as smacking a 2-year-old in the head.

Tales of mommy play dates can turn into horror stories. Who hasn’t encountered the perfect mom who kneels at eye level with her child, looking at him as if he were 30 years older. In a soft-spoken voice, she signs, “Please listen to mommy right now, sweetie. She is the authoritarian, and you are the child. Climbing up the slide backwards is dangerous, and I would appreciate you only going down the slide on your bottom because … .”

Ever since college dorm days, it’s encouraged, even dictated, to use the word NO. So what happened during recent years that made this word outdated, wrong, or just plain mean? Don’t different, yet equal, parenting styles work well for different children?

Mollie Brunet, a busy and stay-at-home mother from Tucson, Arizona, explains her philosophy, “Disciplining my child is quick and painless. I believe you can say no to your kid. You need to say it firmly and mean business. You set the rules and boundaries. Am I mean for saying no? I think not.”

What it comes down to is that mothers don’t deserve disapproving stares from passers-by in a grocery store when they blatantly state NO with annoyance to their kids when they are saying “Superman gummies!” like a broken record. They deserve respect for their consistency, the dedication to parenting, and their desire to raise well-behaved children.

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