I am not sure when the x.x sale began. May be last year, 2 years or 10 years ago, but I just started noticing this pandemic. Aside from the fact that I am not fond of shopping, or more aptly spending, I am also a little rebellious in such a way that I try to hold out of joining the bandwagon. I mean, what is so special with January 1st (ok, this is an outlier)? Or February 2nd? Or March 3rd? Not even a loved one happen to be born on the day of the month
Two weeks ago, Sophia woke up in a very good mood and she excitedly opened shopee on my phone and showed me a virtual reality toy she likes and said, “look, Mommy, it’s free shipping today!” Maybe she is still young to understand that I would happily pay for the shipping fee which is probably .25% of the cost of the toy than buy her the toy. I calmly told her that it is a bit of a stretch for me at this time and that her tuition fees (which is only a couple of grand more than her toy) is due in a few days.
I apologized and explained to her our situation. I added that when our circumstances improve, I will look at it again. She may not be aware, but she is used to her mother using the conditional yes technique a lot.
Reframe a No into a Conditional Yes
When you have to decline a request, it matters, how you say no. An out-and-out no can be much harder to accept than a yes with conditions. No, especially if said in a harsh and dismissive tone, can automatically activate a reactive state in a child (or anyone). In the brain, reactivity can involve the impulse to fight, flee, freeze, or, in extreme cases, faint. In contrast, a supportive yes statement, even when not permitting a behavior, turns on the social engagement circuitry, making the brain receptive to what’s happening, making learning more likely, and promoting connections with others.
You’ll be teaching your child to develop a prospective mind, to sense the possibilities for the future and to imagine how to create future actions to meet present needs. These are executive functions that, when learned, can be skills that last a lifetime. You are offering guidance to literally grow the important prefrontal circuits of emotional and social intelligence.
Notice that this isn’t at all about protecting kids from being frustrated or providing them with everything they want. On the contrary, it’s about giving them practice at tolerating their disappointment when things inevitably don’t go their way. They aren’t attaining their desires in that moment, and you’re assisting them as they manage their disappointment. You’re helping them develop the resilience that will aid them every time they are told no throughout their lives. You’re expanding their window of tolerance for not getting their way and giving them practice at delaying gratification. Instead of discipline simply leading to a feeling of being shut down, now your child will know, from actual experiences with you, that the limits you set often lead toward learning skills and imagining future possibilities, not imprisonment and dismissal.Daniel J. Siegel, M.D. And Tina Payne Bryson, Ph.D. – No Drama Discipline
Saying no to Sophia has always been easy for me. In addition to the reasons cited above, my daughter knows by now how tight Mommy holds the purse strings. Seriously, sometimes I think she is even more surprised when she gets a yes than a no. I suppose one more advantage of this approach is that she is more appreciative of what I give her, like what her list 10 Delightful Things Sophia Loves About Her Mommy indicates.
So what was the big deal with this one? And what has that got to do with my uncharacteristic shopping spree? I was frustrated. Not because I did not buy her the toy (in fact, I am not sure if I would even if we are better off financially) but the feeling of helplessness brought about by having that option taken from me was quite annoying. Pre-pandemic, I used to tell her I would rather take her traveling instead, to inculcate in her the importance of “collecting moments not things” (like what is written in her water bottle). But now, I do not have that choice.
I felt so horrible that on August 8, I handed my phone to her and told her to pick something up from Shopee, with a limit of one thousand pesos. She could not have asked last month when my theme was would you rather eh? It is just my luck that it happens to be the 10 things month. So here is the list.
1. Frozen Fever 2 Monopoly game. This came as a surprise for her, I was supposed to teach her when she turns 8. One of my favorite games as a child! I used to play by myself. It is fun to teach Sophia and I am glad she likes it. Someday I will encourage her to play a little bit of real life monopoly. I will consider my experience as an expensive teacher.
2. Kid anime demon slayer Kamado Nezuko cosplay full set. This is her first and only choice, it is within budget (came out an ever grand, including discounts) so I checked it out for her. On hindsight, there are more than 10 pieces in there already!
3. Adult pajama. To express my gratitude to Ate Ana who has been with us for over three years now, I also asked her to add to cart.
4. Pulvoron molder. I suddenly thought of making pulvoron one of these Saturdays, as part of our 10 Challenging Goals Sophia And I Are Doing This August.
5. Vlogger set. Now that I am getting comfortable with blogging, some of my friends are encouraging me to try setting up a vlog. I have no fixed and definite plans yet, but just in case the inspiration strikes, I am ready!
6. 5-piece purple garden tool set. This is definitely a want, not a need. But seeing as how Sophia has taken well to gardening, when I came across this, I impulsively purchased.
7. Ensure gold vanilla. It feels like ages ago when I last got something for my parents.
8. Pajama and shirt for boys. For Ate Ana’s sons.
9. 6 grids popsicle molder. Sophia has been asking for this since last year. Earlier she wanted to make coke popsicles. I need to buy some fruits! We have grapes, maybe we can make kiddie wine!
10. Round frame student anti-blue light glasses. We have been spending a lot of time in front of screens lately.
I was out a little over a hunded dollars. I will not focus on that but instead on the suddenly inspired additional and priceless lesson. It does not take much (in this case even less) to make more people happy. Compared to getting the expensive toy, Mommy spent less and 6 more people benefited.
Sarah, you cannot go out yet, but before you know it, you will see the world again. Sarah, it is tough right now, but tomorrow will be a better day. Sarah, business is bad lately, but do not despair, you can always recover someday. Sarah, you are alone right now, but hopefully one day (and soon) you will find yourself very much loved again.
What is your conditional yes that will make you feel a little less discouraged right now?