Our kids hate the word "no". Hate it. Hate it. Hate it. I used to think it was just an excuse to have a wango tango event. Now I think it's more of a trauma response. We already know that cause and effect is severely damaged in traumatized children so we can't expect them to respond correctly as a NT. ESPECIALLY if it's a stressful situation. BUT when J came home she was 5 and she was verbal so I expected her to understand what no meant. Oh boy! Was I ever wrong! When you've had about a million other homes and too many changes, and too many hurts and too many scary things happening it just doesn't work that way. No, in their mind, means the end of the world because they think there will NEVER be another "yes." The amygdala engages and all hope is lost. They say "game on." It's just one of the millions of things that I wish that I understood before I parented trauma. I could've saved myself and J so much trouble and shattered eardrums. :)
Try to say yes to everything you can within reason. I really have to watch myself because I will get in the habit of saying no just because....I'm too tired or I really don't want to be bothered or it's Wednesday, or whatever.
Please don't get your panties in a wad. Hear me out first.... I KNOW there are times you have to say no AND that's it's really important that they can handle it and obey it immediately. Sometimes it life and death. As in...."no" when they're about to run out in the street, or touch a hot pan, etc. BUT when you can say "yes" and when they're regulated, maybe you can try the things below that worked for us to take the sting out of "no".
We made up another word to use instead. One of ours was hippopotamus. Yes... I know it's crazy to use another word when it would be so much easier just to say no. But it sounds funny and it would interrupt the spin into the amygdala and most of the time she could handle it. Not always... but seriously people if it worked only for one day I would take it. When hippopotamus stopped working we used supercalifragilisticexpialidocious cause that was even sillier and then she'd try to say it and couldn't and then we'd both be laughing. (P.S. if you're both laughing you are both winning.) Sometimes I let her pick the word that would represent "no." It gave her some control and it was always interesting to hear her choice.
We practiced, ad nauseum, using the representative word or the dreaded actual "no" when she was regulated. Lots of pizazz to enforce when they are strong enough to actually hear the word and accept it. Sweet treat rewards during practice never hurt either. Your hand to their mouth with love.
Model it: Turn the practice around and let them tell you "no" and model the appropriate response. Yes, you may feel silly but find the fun in it. Use your imagination and make it fun.
J is attached and her responses are appropriate most of the time but still, even after 5 years, if she is not regulated or stuck in her amygdala due to a stressful situation she can STILL have a hard time with no. STILL. I have to keep reminding myself that sooooooo much was missing in her first 5 years that this may be a pattern for her. It may be something she adjusts too eventually but it's up to me not to expect her to have the exact response a NT child might have. She's doing the best she can and sometimes I have to adjust my expectations. It is frustrating and there are times when I think "she just be over all that stuff by now." That's just me being ridiculous. Then I have to remember how far she has come.
We've come a long way baby!
If you've got any helpful hints on what you've done to ward off the no wango tango please share. I can use all the tips I can get in my arsenal.