Yes Day, the “Yes” day in the family: nightmare or opportunity?

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The film has been out a few weeks ago Yes Day with Jennifer Gardner as a mother who always says no to her children, with strict rules to follow and who thus decides to grant a day off where everything is allowed.
Funny comedy aside, would it really be that good and useful in reality? We talked about it with the psychologist Roberta Colombo.

Yes day. Have you seen the movie? What do you think?
“Yes, I saw it and found it to be a pleasant comedy suitable for the whole family. The plot and development are simple, but they are a great starting point for important reflections.

At first glance, it would seem that everything plays only around the theme of the juxtaposition of “no” and “yes” as educational methods understood as imposed prohibitions and granted permits. However, the “yes day” also represents a time of sharing, independent of age, in which the dimension of play and the enthusiasm for small things are rediscovered together. It is the time that parents and children dedicate themselves to be well together ».

Would a YES day really help? If so, from what age?
“In the sense of identifying a day in which parents and children have a privileged time to spend together, I think it is very useful to institute the “yes day” at any age. In the film, the parents also set rules for the yes day, because it is important that the concept does not pass that all desires can be satisfied and that everything is granted at that time (especially for kids watching!). In the film, the yes day aims to find a balance: between a first characterized by many rules and restrictions badly tolerated by the children and an after in which the children themselves understand that the “no” said by the parents are advice to follow and guarantee them protection; between a first in which the roles of mom (rigid and boring) and dad (soft and accomplice) are completely unbalanced and an after in which they find a common and shared line that is certainly more successful. In general I believe that the yes and no we say to our children must be balanced every day. Let us make our children weaker both by always saying no to them and always saying yes to them ».

Why are the rules so important?
«Growing up in a clear and defined context in which there are rules to be respected is very important for children, since create a safe perimeter in which they can move, learn, make mistakes. Teach them how to behave, what is possible and what is not, and how far they can go. The rules, contrary to what one might think, create a space in which one experiences and are the basis for the development of autonomy.It is very important explain no to our children, because they have to understand why they are not allowed to do something. “No because I say so” O “No and enough“Risk causing only anger and do not allow, after an initial frustration, to understand that they are not consistent, the result of a motivated parental decision. Too many prohibitions, however, are counterproductive: The child may feel inhibited and afraid to explore a dangerous world. So say no only when necessary and when we feel we can carry out our position, otherwise the child will feel that if he complains or protests, he will be able to get what he wants ».

When to say yes and when not to give in?
«Alongside the imposition of the rules, it is essential to have a positive and proactive attitude with our children who also need our yes very much. Always saying no can predispose you to keep an attitude always on the defensive and does not distinguish between the not important and the less important ones. Receiving a yes increases self-esteem, makes parents feel trusting, gives security, encourages decision making. Children need to experience, to feel that it is possible to make mistakes because it makes them grow confident. Is it really that essential to go to sleep at the same time every night if our child asks us to read the book one more time? Even through yes, children learn to self-regulate: if I am too late today, tomorrow I struggle to get up and therefore I understand the importance of going to sleep within a certain time, for example “.

In the film, the teenage daughter experiences at her own expense what it means not to listen to her parents: she therefore understands the reason for certain impositions and recognizes her role in her mother. Learn to self-regulate, but take a big risk. This is where we therefore have to ask ourselves, as parents, when we shouldn’t give in. If it comes to the safety of our children, say teach them a limit or how to manage frustration, to impose a rule that will generate autonomy, then we cannot afford not to say no. With fair and consistent boundaries, thus using both yes and no, parents guide their children until they are able to self-regulate. If we need no to protect ourselves from our fears or to make our children meet our expectations, then we need to stop and question what we are doing.

Is it a film to watch with the whole family or does it generate discussions? After watching the film, don’t you create friction in the family?
«I think it is a film suitable to be seen with the whole family. It could generate discussions: parents could strongly support the thesis that it is necessary to continue saying no for the safety of their children, children could strongly argue that it is essential to have a “yes day” in which everything is allowed: everyone brings water to his mill! But it is a film that can also generate one fruitful discussion, a comparison between generations where all the arguments we have talked about so far can be explained. Let us not forget that an open climate of discussion and mutual listening is the basis for maintaining a positive relationship with our children ».

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