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Letting Your Kid Play With Knives -or- The Undercover “No”

let your kids play with knives
“NO” Feels Like a Denial of Their Natural Selves

Part of the reason kids flip out when they hear no is that they don’t understand why they’re being told no. They feel that they are just expressing their natural selves. The NO means that their natural expression is wrong! It’s painful to hear this so they resist.

Even if we offer an explanation for why we are saying no, it is almost impossible for the young mind to take in that information, especially if they are used to hearing no all the time. The reasons become irrelevant.

Celebrate Their Expressions

My approach is to celebrate their natural expressions. To say YES with guidance which I call “YES, and…” Our kids want to know that we think they’re amazing! This is because their sense of self is deeply tied into our opinion/perspective of them.

When we make them feel otherwise it is very painful for them.

So if a kid wants to play with knives, instead of saying no, we can talk about how wonderful it is that they want to play with shiny and interesting things. “This is a quality called curiosity and maybe one day you could be a scientist or explorer because of this amazing thing you’re doing! I’m so impressed by this.”

Join Them in Their Desires

I also love to play with and explore new things.
Some things can hurt us though and I love you so much I don’t want you to get hurt.

Can we play and explore together?
Let’s find something that’s even more shiny and exciting?
Knives can be dangerous, but playing with stuff is awesome.

Or if they’re quite attached to playing with the knife…

Knives can be dangerous, but playing with stuff is awesome.
So let’s play with them together and carefully.
See this part of the knife? It can cut you… ouch! But this part is okay.

My kid knew knife safety from the time she was three years old.
We used to throw steak knives into the watermelon.
Of course I am a Ninja so raising her to throw knives is just natural!

You can read here how I taught her fire safety from a young age as well

The Undercover No

The secret is to make the no
(No you can’t play with knives on your own)
sound like a big exciting yes!
(Yes we can play with them together)
And the lesson is hidden in the midst of all that love and encouragement.

This kind of explanation works more often than you can imagine!
It takes a bit more work, but is much less work in the long run.
It avoids the fights, the resistance, the yelling and fussing.
There’s nothing to fight about because you’re saying YES!
Yes even a 2 year old will respond to this level of positive attention and respect.

A New Approach Takes Patience

It may not work like magic the first time you use it after having a pattern already established.
All change takes time and patience.
The positive approach, the “YES, and…” has so much more opportunity for connection, learning and growth that it’s worth the effort. So even if it doesn’t work the first time, keep at it, the pattern will change.

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