A tiny word with a powerful impact

happy toddler

This post is written for inclusion in the Carnival of Gentle Discipline hosted by Paige @ Baby Dust Diaries. All week, April 26-30, we will be featuring essays about non-punitive discipline. See the bottom of this post for more information.

I’m going to let you into a parenting secret.

It’s one that develops a sense of trust and understanding, helps a child to feel heard, validated and loved and improves your relationship.

It’s one that stops tantrums in their tracks, brings you closer together and makes yours and their lives a whole lot nicer.

It’s free, available to anyone and you don’t need any training. You can teach others to do it, in fact you’re already a master at it, but perhaps you’ve forgotten …

It’s fun, uplifting and you’ll feel like the best parent in the world!

Are you ready to remember the most creative and empowering tool in your parenting toolkit?

All it takes is just one word. One tiny word. So small it only has three letters.[amazon-product align=”right” small=”1″]1892005034[/amazon-product]

Are you ready?

That word is ‘yes’.

Try it!

Next time your child asks to play a game when you’re in the middle of baking, washing up, getting a presentation ready for work, taking a shower, running late for a club, taking a phonecall or driving somewhere in rush hour traffic, start your sentence with ‘yes’.

I guarantee it will turn your mood around in an instant and it will stop any escalating feelings of anger or sadness on your child’s part and irritability or stress on yours.

Here’s the deal. Don’t follow your ‘yes’ with a ‘but’. This isn’t the ‘yes but’ conversation, because that is really another way of saying ‘no’.

You’ve got to follow it with something positive.

“Yes, I’d love to play a game with you. As soon as I’ve washed up we’ll sit down together”.

Doesn’t that feel better than “No I can’t, I’m busy.”?

Your child will hear the yes, will feel heard, will feel you love them and care about and WANT to spend time with them, because you do, it’s just that being a parent without your extended family / all the housework to do / four other kids to take care of / a sick relative to care for / work / gets really challenging at times and you find yourself time poor and irritable.

[amazon-product small=”1″]1892005093[/amazon-product]By saying yes, you have both had your needs met. Your child gets to play a game with you and you have the time to focus on whatever it is you need to do right now.

What about you? Do you have a simple tip for positive discipline?

Gentle Parent - art by Erika Hastings at http://mudspice.wordpress.com/Welcome to the Carnival of Gentle Discipline

Please join us all week, April 26-30, as we explore alternatives to punitive discipline. April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month in the USA and April 30th is Spank Out Day USA. In honor of this we have collected a wonderful array of articles and essays about the negative effects of punitive discipline methods, like spanking, and a myriad of effective alternatives.

Are you a Gentle Parent? Put the Badge on your blog or website to spread the word that gentle love works!

Links will become available on the specified day of the Carnival.

Day 1 – What Is Gentle Discipline

Day 2 – False Expectations, Positive Intentions, and Choosing Joy (coming Tuesday, April 27)

Day 3 – Choosing Not To Spank (coming Wednesday, April 28)

Day 4 – Creating a “Yes” Environment (coming Thursday, April 29)

Day 5 – Terrific Toddlers; Tantrums and All (coming Friday, April 30)


  1. Dionna @ Code Name: Mama on April 21, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    Love this post!! And I totally agree – we make a conscious effort to say yes, even when we don’t feel like it or it’s inconvenient to us. Kieran’s needs/wants are just as important as ours are, and we want him to know that!

  2. Mrs Green on April 24, 2010 at 6:42 am

    @Dionna @ Code Name: Mama: Thanks Dionna, it’s great to hear of families using that one simple idea to make a difference.

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  12. Deb Chitwood on April 29, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    Great post! It’s easy to forget how much difference our words make. I love Parent Effectiveness (P.E.T.) for that reason. It teaches parents how to communicate in a positive manner and with respect for their children.

  13. Sheryl @ Little Snowflakes on April 29, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    I’ve tried this before with success. Usually my son’s requests are so simple – read me a book, or come play with me, or let’s go outside. Instead of being caught up with all the things that “need” to get done, like tidying up, or laundry, etc., I try to say yes to my son as often as possible. It’s amazing that a bit of time together reading or playing puts us both in great moods. The other stuff that needs to be done can almost always wait!

  14. Mom on April 29, 2010 at 11:40 pm

    I agree….When the girls were grade school age, we lived in a house that was great for the kids to get running around the archways chasing each other and it would get on our nerves real fast. Their Dad had a great idea – He started a race track and while i got dinner ready he would use a stop watch and he would time them running around in that big circle and the goal was to beat their own time so they weren’t competing against each other (because the older one would always win). By the time dinner was ready they were tired out and he would tell them the track was closed for the evening. They thought it was great fun and loved the attention. Creativity is the parents best friend. “no” is much easier when you balance it with lots of “yeses”

  15. michelle on April 30, 2010 at 6:00 am

    Living with a yes attitude in general is much more lighthearted and kid-friendly, both of which make discipline easier. It’s important to keep everyone’s needs/wants in balance, and the older kids get the easier it is for them to understand, “yes, as soon as I finish the dishes” or “yes, as soon as you put away that puzzle”. Great post!

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  17. Lisa C on April 30, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    Great job making this concept so clear and simple. You know, whenever I say no to my son, I just feel like crap. Saying yes feels SO much better!

  18. Lauren @ Hobo Mama on May 1, 2010 at 6:58 am

    I love this. I love how you mentioned that it respects both your own needs and the child’s, so that no one’s needs get lost in the shuffle. I definitely need to practice saying “Yes” without the “but”!

  19. Paige @ BabyDust Diaries on May 2, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    This is my mom by the way. I remember that fondly as well. I see so many parents freak out when their kids act like kids. My parents were very good at finding ways to let us be kids and also teach us when to stop. I have a friend that freaks out if her kids gets dirty. He’s 2! Kids are supposed to get dirty!

    Thanks so much for your wonderful post! You also were a faithful commenter on everyone’s posts this week and I really appreciate it! I work during the day and it was hard keep up. Thanks for participating in the carnival.

  20. Amber on May 3, 2010 at 3:20 am

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this. YES 🙂 Such a mighty word indeed.

  21. Terri Henry on October 27, 2010 at 2:43 am

    Thanks for this post – it’s simple but sometimes I forget. Wonderful reminder – YES, YES YES!

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