Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Little Victory

I talk a lot about needs and wants to other parents and kids and it's a core part of the mission my company and I are on. Recently, though, I've been wondering about the effectiveness of this communication because my 4-year-old, Quinn, has been overwhelming my wife and me with whining about "wants, wants, wants." I kept thinking to myself, "Is she getting it?"

And just about when I was at my breaking point, she stunned me. We were cruising down Gower St. here in Los Angeles when Kellyn, our 2-year-old, blurted from the back seat, "I need my Dora" (pronounced "Doe-wah" in two-speak). I had just watched her toss it on the floor and since I was, well, driving, I wasn't in a rush to satisfy this demand. She quickly followed her request with a whine when suddenly Quinn chimed in, "Kellyn, you don't NEED your Dora, you WANT it." I looked at Quinn in the rearview mirror and smiled. A little victory.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Say Yes to No

Minnesota has launched a new campaign, "Say Yes To No," that encourages parents to be more active in setting limits on their children, particularly when it comes to consuming media - which are filled with "yes" messages. Why? The site link above notes that "The constant barrage of “yes” messages undermines crucial character traits for success, including self-reliance, respect, integrity and the ability to delay gratification." The campaign promotes Dr. David Walsh's new book, "No. Why Kids – of All Ages – Need to Hear it and Ways Parents Can Say It," as a way of addressing the "yes" syndrome in our culture.

I haven't yet read the book, but I love the concept. It immediately reminded me of a recent conversation. My friend - a company president and someone with tremendous means - told me that he was having diffculty getting across the concept of saving with his 5-year-old. I probed a bit and found that his real problem was that he was having a difficult time saying no to "small requests." These requests (toys, games, etc.) were adding up and he was feeling that his child was beginning to become one of those "entitled" types. The irony of this was staggering - the wealth he had amassed by embodying the traits above was enabling him to potentially deprive his son of those very important traits. I told him that he really needed to learn how to say "no." Sure, he can afford most anything his son would like, but perhaps it was time to use the phrase, "it's not in our budget." It's just one way to "say yes to no."