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Episode 32

The power of saying YES to our kids and ourselves

June 6, 2022

[Kyle]: In today's episode we're gonna say “yes!”. We're gonna talk about the power of “yes” and how the ability to understand what “yes” is really saying to your kid. It's not just about not saying “no”, but it's about co-creating a new way to see desire within yourself and within your child. So, I hope you find it helpful.

[Kyle]: Hello and welcome to episode 32 of The Art of Raising Humans. I'm Kyle.

[Sara]: And I’m Sara.

[Kyle]: And today we're going to talk about “yes”! Exactly! We're gonna talk about the power of saying “yes” and I hope today, maybe you've heard this idea before, but I hope we go a little deeper because it's not as simple as just like “hey, let's just start saying yes to everything our kids want”, you know? I remember in particular there was a movie I guess with Jennifer Gardner on, I think it was Netflix or something like that, I think it was called “Yes Day” and to be fair, I haven't seen it, I just read about it, heard some parents talk about it and I think there's some good elements to the movie, but I think part of it, what I want to get away from is, it's not just us saying yes to everything, you know? That actually the kids want us to say “no”. So, I want you to know in this, we're not saying “no is bad and yes is good” and if you listen to our last podcast, which I strongly suggest you should, we're not going to get into a dichotomous thing where saying “yes” means you never say “no”, because “no” is bad, right?

[Kyle]: I think “no” is actually really helpful and I think kids actually want you to say no sometimes to them, okay? But I want to take a deeper look at why saying yes is so important to raising healthy responsible kids. But before we do, I want to encourage you to go to, you know, the website You can find the podcast there, you can find ways to, you know, email us, you can ask questions, give us ideas for future podcasts. Some of our podcasts have been because listeners or people have asked us to talk about certain things and so, I would love to have your feedback on how this is helpful. You know, put five stars, send this out, do all the cool stuff you know to do on social media. To get the word out, because Sara and I are doing this to help families. So, if you think the power of “yes” and understanding that would be helpful to a family, send this to them, okay? But Sara, why is saying yes so important?

[Sara]: Okay. So, when I learned this back, way back, when I was working with kids, it was one of those things where you just, boom! It blew my mind and I loved it and I think part of that's my personality. I’m not one of those “no! no! no!”
[Kyle]: Oh, I’m one of those people, I like that, I like a good “no”.

[Sara]: Right. But when I heard “what!? I can say ‘yes’ a lot? This is fantastic!”

[Kyle]: “And it's actually good and healthy!?”

[Sara]: “Yes!”. No, I really-- I loved it because I like to say yes to kids and in situations, I’d see them light up. I’d see and so, when I learned that “oh, this is a way to guide them, this is a way to help them” and kids here know so much and I can actually use “yes” to help them, it was just wonderful and as I started to incorporate it with my work with kids, especially the ones who are so resistant, who had-- They were getting kicked out of daycare, they were just already had that big label on him.

[Kyle]: “No!”

[Sara]: Yeah, yeah.

[Kyle]: That was the label. Was, “you see that kid? You gotta say no to that kid”.

[Sara]: Yes, they were the troubled ones.

[Kyle]: Yes, exactly.

[Sara]: And it really helped them, they would open up because they thought “what!? You're just not going to say no to everything I do?” and so, it's just something from early on we've been doing with our kids and it's the idea [Unintelligible] do you want me to just go--

[Kyle]: Let me get-- I do like that, I love it when you go into things, but I was going to say this, I got this off the internet. Sweet. So--

[Sara]: You can trust it.

[Kyle]: I know, I know. This is a research thing that-- We knew this, but in the past, but I wanted to get specific. So, this particular study that I found was, said the average toddler hears the word “no” an astonishing 400 times a day. That's a lot.

[Sara]: That does feel like really big numbers.

[Kyle]: I know.

[Sara]: But I will say, it's so true, what does everyone--? What's a very-- Kids usually learn “mom” and “dad” and “no”.

[Kyle]: Yeah, that0s true. Yeah.

[Sara]: Those are almost there-- I was really proud when our oldest was little, she would say “yeah” a lot.

[Kyle]: Yeah, that's true, yes, she did.

[Sara]: It feels like “yes! Success!”. She doesn't just say no. But, you know, we're trying to save them from things, so we have the habit of saying “no” and then as they get older, we just continue that process.

[Kyle]: Well, what you made me think and I want you to go is, when you teach your kids by resisting them a lot, which was what “no” is. “No, no, no, no”, I’m modeling and teaching them to do the same thing to me. So, it's no surprise when they feel like now, they can say “no, no, no”, like they're going to do it back to me, because that's how we communicate. You ask me to do things or I try to do things, you tell me “no” and then you ask me to do things and I just say “no”. So, like it really-- It starts resistance breeds resistance. I start to grow resistant kids.

[Sara]: And I think you lose in that, there are lots of yeses, right? So if you say “no, you can't touch that” or “no, don't--”, there's actually other times where it may be totally fine.

[Sara]: And so, “yes” is actually really helpful because it leads us to that direction.

[Kyle]: It guides them to what they can touch, yeah.

[Sara]: It teaches them to go “oh, okay, it's just not always a big flashing ‘no’, there's just a time and a place for this”.

[Sara]: If my little kid is yelling at the top of their lungs and I say “no! stop that! don't--”, you know, then instead I could say “oh, yelling, that's great outside, you can go outside and yell”, they start to actually learn “okay, it's not that just ‘no’ to the yelling, it's that inside it-- It's, you know, hard on people's ears, it's really loud. Oh, I can do that outside. I can jump or I can hit things or I can run around like crazy or you know”.

[Kyle]: We were at a birthday party one time and their little kid who was five came up and had a plastic baseball bat and started hitting me in the leg and because I knew this, I just said “oh, do you want to hit something?” and I said to his dad “hey, does he have a baseball?”. “Yeah”, he threw me the baseball. “Take this outside and go hit this” and the kid's eyes lit up and he took off and went outside. Like he was hitting me because he knew that's what you do with baseball bats, but my leg isn't the thing he wanted to hit. So, instead of saying “don't do that!”, which is what his dad said, “don't do that!”. Like, “hey, do you have a baseball?”, I immediately said “yes” to hitting, “you don't need to hit me, go hit the ball”.

[Sara]: Yeah, and cookies or something like that is a great example of “no, you can’t have a cookie”, instead you could say “after dinner”.

[Sara]: And kids respond really well. A lot of times they're just looking for “I really want this thing, I have this impulse or I have this need” and instead of just saying “that's a dead no”, you know, you let them-- You lead them into where and when that can happen.

[Kyle]: I think a lot of times-- As you're saying that, a lot of times it's this desire in the kid, which you want to cultivate and guide their desires, you know? Like the desire may be for a cookie. I’m thinking a lot of times the desire is just curiosity, you know? And typically those curiosity things get a big slap down of “no! don't do that!”. I remember in particular being four years old and I was curious if during nap time, I covered my ears and screamed as loud as I could, if anybody else could hear me and I remember the teachers were so mad at me and I was so confused why they were mad at me. I was just experimenting, I didn't know and then I was like “wow! that didn't work out, I guess they can't hear me”, you know? But I said now that was a bad decision and instead of it, could have been-- If I could have talked to them about it, they could have said “hey, listen, that's not the time, you know? Don't do it then. If you're wanting to see if people can hear you when you scream, don't do it during nap time. I’ll do it with you, let's go outside, you cover your ears, scream and I’ll tell you if I can hear you, right?” and it would-- That whole science experiment would have been done.

[Sara]: Right, or recently our youngest asked if she could light a candle and so, I told her “oh--” She want us to try to light something and so, I told her “oh, that's great. Okay, here” and I gave her a time and a place when we would do that together, so that she'd be safe and you know, instead of just “no, you can't do that”, let's try to guide that into something and-- So, we've talked a lot about little kids, but the same thing goes with older kids.

[Sara]: You know, if they want to learn to drive or you know, all the things that they're trying to grow into and do things on their own.

[Kyle]: If they want a phone, if they want social media, yeah.

[Sara]: Create the space, how that's going to happen, it's a “yes”, a “yes when”, you know? Tell them “this is when it's going to happen, this is how it's going to happen”. It's a “yes”, it's just how is that going to look.

[Kyle]: Well, I’ve seen so many kids in the practice whose parents have said “no” to social media and I agree, I’m glad you have to some extent, right? It's good, just because there's other parents who have just let their kids on social media and have no clue the dangers they’re at least-- Are not choosing to face those dangers, you know? And I think it's important to equip your kid to be successful in culture with social media and so, instead of saying “no” to having the social media, you say “yes” to how that can happen, you know?

[Sara]: This age, this is how it’s--

[Kyle]: I’ve seen kids write three-page papers about the negative effects of it, the positive, all in a way to join together with the parent to say “I want to have this, but I want to do it in a healthy way, but all I’m getting is a ‘no’ from you”, you know? And I love how there's a lady who wrote a book called “Screen wise”, where she talks about this whole cool process of your kid wants an Instagram account, have them not only write the positives and negatives, you know, what those are, write that down for you. Maybe also explore what are five positive accounts that really show positive things and five that are negative and show-- Come back and what makes it-- You know, “healthy ways to approach it, unhealthy ways and then I want you to start with the Instagram account for the dog. So, we'll start an Instagram account for the dog and you'll manage that for three to four months and then we'll see how that goes and then after three to four months, if it looks like you're able to do it in a way that's helpful to you, rather than in a way that hurts you, then cool! Let's maybe try one for you!”, you know?

[Kyle]: But even in that there's parameters, it's a “yes” to the boundaries, the parameters. It's like “if you're on there, then I’m going to be on there with you” and all these kinds of-- You set all these boundaries and because you're saying “yes”, the kid is more likely to accept those things, rather than you just saying “no” and then finally like, at some point, they'd go behind your back and it causes all of this this kind of conflict. Because eventually the kid's going to be out of your house and going to have it anyway, you know?

[Sara]: Yeah, there is a “yes”. Even though if we say “no”, there's actually-- The “yes” is still there, so let’s just go in that direction.

[Kyle]: And even though-- It seems like the only “yes”, Sara, is to do it behind your back.

[Kyle]: You're like “I can't get a ‘yes’ from you, so the only way to get ‘yes’ is by being deceitful, manipulative and going behind your back”.

[Sara]: Well, and just because we meet them with a “no”, that instantly builds the resistance and so, I’m resisting you with your “no” and then they just start to resist back and you build this-- Especially over time and over years of doing that.

[Kyle]: Something I learned in Drug and Alcohol Counseling was these clients were told to go there by court and they had to go there to get their license back, because they had DUIs and the power of “yes” in that environment was flowing with the resistance. That many of them are mad about being there, they didn't want to be there, they're paying a lot of money to come there, learning information they thought was stupid and I as a group leader, wanted them to leave there and not drive drunk and not drive high and be safe. So, using the power of “yes”, using the ability to flow with their resistance, it bred cooperation to where they finally got less defensive, less-- You know, resistance to the info and they are more receptive and that's never what you want your kid to be. You're wanting your kid not to be trained to resist you, but to receive you, to be receptive to the wisdom as you as a parent have to offer. They need your guidance, they need your-- They actually want it, but if they think the only guidance they're going to get is “no”, then they'll stop asking you, you know? They're going to ask other people you will say “yes”.

[Sara]: You’re going to say “no” anyway.

[Kyle]: Right, they will say that, yeah.

[Sara]: Yeah, I know. Well, it reminds me of the kids. The kids usually know which parent is the “yes” parent and which parent is the “no” parent and so, they're going to go to the “yes” parent, right? So, if we can just both team up together to be the “yes” parent and guide that and I think too there's a piece of it that just honors the child's desire. So, if my child comes to me and wants their fifth cookie, it's not that they're a bad kid or something, I just need to guide that desire for sweet something in a different direction. So, I can--

[Kyle]: But same with wanting the phone, same with wanting social media.

[Sara]: Yes, all of that.

[Kyle]: All that stuff, yeah.


[Sara]: And teenagers I think of dating and relationships and how far-- What does that look like? And you know, you want to have those open conversations and so, you want to lead that into a “yes” and how-- Let's shape it.

[Kyle]: Sara, I’ve had teenagers tell me like, “I can't date till I’m 18”. I’m like “are you sure? Cause I don't think your parents have said that”. Like “no, they did” and then when I talk to parents like “no, I don't remember saying that”, but like the kid can remember somewhere when they were like 12, there was a joke “you're not dating until you're 18” and so, the kid ever since then is “it's a no, it's a no” and like “I’ll talk to the parents”, like “I’m okay if they want to go on a date at like 16 or something like that” and the kid has not even asked because the kids so used to just like “they're just the ‘no’ parent, so why would I even ask him?” and the parent’s like “why would they think that? I haven't--”. So, somewhere along the way the kid got the message, that there isn't this flowing with it, there isn't this receptivity to the desire, there's just going to be-- The desire is going to met with like “well, put that desire away, you know? I’m tired of you asking”.

[Sara]: And then you miss out on all that, what your child is thinking, what's going on in there. The “yes” opens that up for dialogue and going there together.

[Kyle]: Well, really helps the kid reflect on “why am I pressing for this? Why do I want this phone so bad?”, you know? I know we're really learning how to do this with our kids too. because that's kind of in the stage of life we're at and it's really been fun to see how thoughtful they can be about having technology or not having technology or all that-- I kind of welcome that. I mean, sure there is some stuff that I kind of go “oh my gosh. I don't want--”. You know, part of you like “can we just not have to deal with this?”, but I think that just puts blinders on and makes it to where the kid isn't gonna come to you, because the kid thinks you're not receptive to the desire. So, I think you hit upon something I didn't put my notes, but I love that of just receiving their desire, not seeing their desire for that fifth cookie as a bad desire. I know I did, I would see it as them being a slave to sugar and be like--

[Sara]: So, sure, sometimes it's annoying.

[Kyle]: Yes, it is annoying, yeah.

[Sara]: it’s like “ugh! Stop asking me”.

[Kyle]: Yes, “stop asking for a stupid cookie!”. Like, yeah.

[Sara]: Yeah. So, we have those moments, but you know, I try to then “okay, wait. How can I make this a ‘yes’?”

[Sara]: “What can that look like?”

[Kyle]: Even I think a good example, our son, who's nine, he was at a scouting event and he was using his knife and he was whittling and it was fun to watch another parent do this and use the power of “yes”. I don't even think he knew he was doing that, but that my son was walking and he was whittling and in scouts, they're very specific about how to use a knife and they go through training about how to do that safely and so, instead of him saying, what she could have and some other adult might have, “don't walk around with a knife like that!” or “hey, you need to be--” You know, “don't be doing that, it's not safe!” or “you could hurt people that way!”. All of that being true, but that would immediately put my son on like “oh, I’m doing something bad. I didn't know, I wasn't meaning to”.

[Kyle]: Instead what this dad said, which was really cool, he said “hey, when you're whittling like that, sit in a chair and face away from people. So, I want you to grab that chair over there, sit down and whittle away”. My son was like “okay, cool”. He just got the chair, he sat down and you could see almost-- I bet in his there was gratitude of like “I’m so thankful that dad showed me a better way to do it”. You know, “I thought I was doing it the best way I could, but he just showed me a better way. How neat is that?”

[Sara]: You have this thing you want to do or things you're doing and let's help you be successful in that.

[Kyle]: Yeah, he's not trying to go around and stab kids with a knife, he's not trying to do it. But I also saw this in one study, Sara, that hearing “yes” helps kids grow up with a positive outlook in life. I think they see life as opportunity, you know? So, when they have a desire, they go “oh, where could that take me?”, you know? “It's another opportunity, I could go do that or go try this or go--” and they think all they need to do is get the right resources, you know? Get some helpful mentoring or some guidance in that and then, life is positive.

[Sara]: It turns on all this creativity, because we all have goals, the goal when you're little might be another cookie or when you're a teenager, it might be a phone or dating or a certain relationship and if kids are grown up with this “okay, how can I reach this thing I want?”, then they can take that into their career and their future goals in life. They can go “oh, I want this, how can I get there?” and they learn to get through barriers instead of just going “well, there's a barrier, it says ‘no’. Stop here”.

[Sara]: And so, I love that it builds in that creativity to overcoming the obstacles and finding pathways--

[Kyle]: Yeah, resiliency. I’m even thinking like, that's the power of saying “yes”, is teaching the kid to say “yes” to themselves, you know? Because I think we get in, caught up into that, when you hear “no” a lot and it's associated to the thing you're desiring. Like “oh, I want that toy”, “no! You have enough toys!”, you know? “stop asking!”, you know? “I want that cookie”, “you've got too many cookies!”, you know? All your desires are framed in light of like, they're bad, you know? And you learn to say “no” to yourself, because I can't trust myself, I can't trust my desires. If I want something, it's probably going to be destructive, you know? Instead of good and I think when you say-- It's not as if like, everything the kid wants is good, I don't even think it's framed in that, it's just they want it. It doesn't have to be good or bad and so, when you come alongside them, it's not like “let me judge your desire”, if that's a good one or bad one, it's just like “oh, you want that? Let me show you how to get that in a way that is healthy, in a way that's appropriate”, you know?

[Sara]: And it gets shaped too, you know? If we're open, if they come to us with a request or desire and we're open to them, then it can even get reshaped. For example, the cookie “oh, you're really wanting something sweet right now? Oh, you know what? I actually just got you raspberries. You love raspberries, let's go get raspberries”. So, it's sort of honoring where they're at and the goal could even get reshaped over time. I know as we're having conversations about phones with our kids, we're shaping that over time and so, anyway, it's not even just like “whatever you ask for, you're going to get”.

[Kyle]: I love it, I love it, Sara. Yeah.

[Sara]: It can get shaped and changed, it’s just open to that.

[Kyle]: The word I like to use is “co-create”.

[Kyle]: So, that's what it's like. I feel like them presenting the desires, like their open hand reaching out to me and me saying “no”, is coming with like this closed fist of like, “I don't care if your hands open, I don't care, it's just no”. But really, they're reaching out saying “will you help me with this desire?”, you know? It isn't-- I love how you said it, it isn't just about-- A lot of times the kid actually doesn't want to get the thing they're wanting, you know? Because like the kid who wants all the candy, you know? The kid ends up getting sick and throwing up, you know? So, it isn't just saying “let's figure out how you can get 100 pieces of candy!”, you know? Instead it's like how do you take that desire to want something sweet and possibly turn it into something that's helpful, right? But when the kid comes with the open hand, if my hand is not hoped open, I can't reach out and grab their hand and hold it with them and co-create where that desire takes them. I think that's good. [Unintelligible] that, because that's really what we do, we want to take that desire with them, co-create it to where that desire goes someplace that shapes and forms them into a healthier human being.

[Sara]: And I think it helps us to help them learn to have that insight.


[Sara]: You think you want a phone and that may be a tool.

[Kyle]: Of course, yeah.

[Sara]: But you're wanting to connect with your friends. You're wanting to--

[Kyle]: To fit in, to for them to be accepted, yeah.

[Sara]: To grow up and have, you know, some responsibilities or to show-- To feel more mature, you know? I know part of this is like, “I want to phone cause that's a piece of being older and I’m trying to be older”.

[Sara]: And so, that's not a-- We can discuss all of that, because the answer is a “yes”, but we need to-- We have some pieces here to talk about, right? To this goal.

[Sara]: And so, it allows them to have that insight and to grow in that skill, because later they'll be doing it on their own and hopefully, they'll still contact-- Hopefully they'll still reach out to you when they're older. But how we do it now with them increases the likelihood they’ll do that.

[Kyle]: Of like, they'll say yes to me someday when I’m older, right? And I haven't--

[Sara]: Yeah, and they'll still invite you in.

[Kyle]: Well, even like a simple desire could-- “Would you mind calling every week just so we can have a conversation? I know you're busy with college and I--” and the kid is more likely to say “yes”, because you've said “yes” to them, you know? They're more likely to say “hey. Well, maybe this few weeks is it's going to be hard, but no, I definitely want to get into that habit and get that”, you know? And so, you're wanting to raise kids who know to say “yes” first to themselves. Once again, not saying “yes”, “oh, I have this desire, I’m going to go get it”, but they know how to be reflective and thoughtful about “what is this desire? what am I really wanting in this moment? And how can I go about that in a way that's really, you know, healthy for me?”, you know?

[Kyle]: And another part of that study was, it said that kids that hear “no” a lot, see life is full of obstacles and they have a more negative and pessimistic view of life. So, like you said, as they just expect the “no”, you know? So, sometimes even like with a boss. I mean, how many times have you wanted a higher salary and thought that you had done the work to deserve a promotion? “But why would I ask the boss, he's going to say ‘no’”, you know? When really the boss may be sitting like, “why don't they-- Why haven't they asked me? I mean--”

[Sara]: You're so used to “no”, you see it when there isn't even a “no”.

[Kyle]: Yeah, and I think it just makes us apprehensive over time. I’ve even seen parents do, where they get apprehensive by asking their kid to do things, because they assume the kid's gonna say “no” and it's like “what is happening? Like, I would--” I want to assume the kid wants to say “yes” and if the kid is saying “no”, that's a moment of reflection, that's a moment of going “what's going on here? I wonder where the ‘no’ is coming from”. The same thing I’d want the kid to do with me, right? If mom or dad are saying “no”, I wonder what that's about, because mom and dad are typically for me, they're typically there to help me guide these desires, you know? Not just resist them and it goes back to just a simple truth, is that resistance doesn't change the moment, acceptance does. So, once your kids when they have these desires like things like a cookie, but into a phone, into dating, into driving, into all these kinds of things, I know it can be scary, but resistance of them doesn't make them go away, it actually just hides them, you know? And so, I actually want to accept the desire and then hand in hand with the kid, co-create what to do with that desire.

[Sara]: Well, and then just bringing it back, sometimes there might be a “no”, but if you're saying “yes” all these other times when you do have to say “no” to something, they're much more likely to accept it, because they're like “wow, I mean, you usually say ‘yes’, so--”.

[Sara]: And they're just gonna be much more open to that.

[Kyle]: Yeah, it's great. So, if I could sum it up, so this-- I want to make sure you hear us correctly what we're saying. We're not saying “let's just say ‘yes’ to everything, ‘noes’ are bad!”. No, I think there's-- “Noes” to me are about setting boundaries. So, in kind of wrapping up, I said, you know, this is a good follow-up to dichotomous thinking, which we did in the last episode. Because people think if you're saying “yes” more often, then it means you're never saying “no” and that's not the case. It's just a shift we're inviting you into in understanding what saying “yes” is really saying, it is setting boundaries through discipleship and guidance, it's you co-creating where your child takes that desire and I’d even encourage you to do it in your marriage. I would encourage you to do it within your own heart, like be reflective of your own desires. How are you just constantly saying-- Are you constantly saying “no” to yourself? Are there ways in which you're saying “yes”, but you're able to co-create that with--? Maybe through faith or maybe through other healthy relationships of like, what is this desire I have and why do I keep saying “no” to it? And how do I tap into it and then do something helpful and healthy with it?

[Kyle]: So, I hope this podcast was helpful to you. I hope today you will try to say “yes” more often, I hope you'll just be more aware how often. Are you saying “no” 400 times a day? I hope you're not. I mean, but notice from your littlest kid up to your biggest kid, notice in your own thought life, notice in your marriage, how often are you saying “no”? Are you buying into the idea that resistance will change things? Are you open to practicing maybe acceptance is a better way to do it? If I can be accepting and receptive, then I actually get a seat at the table. Maybe I get to help guide my kid or guide where my marriage is going. So, I just hope this was helpful overall and just would love for you to be more open to the “yes” and we say “yes” to you and “yes” to you loving your kid more and then being that parent you want to be, all right? So, I hope you have a great day and enjoy your upcoming summer break.

[Sara]: Thank you for listening

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