Sometimes I wonder how my 2-yr-old finds the will to wake up in the morning. Imagine waking up, minding your own business, reaching to touch those pretty holiday decorations when all of a sudden, “No!” Oh, ok. Well I’ll just stick my hand in this porcelain bowl full of cool water. That should be refreshi- “No!” Wha? Ok, well… these walls look awfully drab. I should decorate them with the colors of the rainbow using these magic waxy sticks! That should brighten everyone’s da- “NOOOOO!!!”
I wonder how much it would take to finally break a child’s sense of wonder and curiosity. What would it take to make him content with all he knows so that he isn’t trying to figure out what happens when you stick a fork in an outlet. (PLEASE don’t be that kid who puts a glow stick in the microwave. What a ding-a-ling.) All joking aside, it’s certainly reasonable to create boundaries for our children to live in. At the same time, giving your children opportunities to hear you say “Yes!” is one of the most empowering things you can do.
I routinely set up situations that allow me to say yes to anything my children ask for. It doesn’t take much. Take them out to an empty field on a rainy day. DAD! Can I climb that hill? “Yep!” Puddles! Can we jump in puddles? “YES.” Mudballs! Can we throw them at you? “N..Nnnggh… Nnnn… ugh… yes.” After giving them permission to be who they are, take note of how they respond to life the next day. They are more content, less irritable, and trust you when you tell them things like, “maybe later.” This practice isn’t reserved for children but for anyone who looks to you for leadership. If you’re a manager, have special meetings where people are able to share ideas and make a concerted effort to not shut them down. If you lead any type of creative group, create moments where people are allowed to step out of the box without being discouraged. People are willing to follow leaders who aren’t afraid of their people’s mistakes. A person who practices saying Yes will not lose people the moment they have to say No.
TL;DR – Create moments that allow you to say Yes. It inspires those around you to dream and adds weight behind moments when you have to say No.