Living with a rigid, anxious, or distracted child means you probably hear “NO” about 1,000 times a day.  It can be very easy to get your parenting back up or to fall into the “do it because I said so” mode when you hear the word “NO” from a child. But with sensory kids, “NO” means much more than “NO” and when you begin to understand the real meaning of “NO”, you can begin to move to the magical place of “MAYBE”.

A Sensory Child’s Meaning of “NO”:

  1. There is too much coming at me right now – my brain is overwhelmed.
  2.  My all or nothing thinking already has me paralyzed – I don’t know where to start.
  3.  Almost everything you ask me to do involves sustained mental focus – not my   strength.
  4.  I have no clue how to plan, prioritize, or organize the steps needed in order to get   something done.
  5. You are asking me to move from a desired to an undesired activity and I REALLY don’t like undesired activities (for more on why I don’t like undesired activities, please see #3 and #4).
  6. So much in the world overwhelms me and I need to be in control about this, here and now.
  7. I’ve had to say “yes” to 100 people today and hold in all my feelings so you’re going to hear “NO” right now.

Making the Shift to “MAYBE”:

  1. Eliminate a few things that are coming at me – quiet your voice, relax your facial expressions, and give me a visual map.
  2. Tell me what Step 1 looks like and maybe even help me get started.
  3. Make it fun, colorful, involve a fascination – anything to help with the sustained mental focus thing.
  4. Keep it to 3 steps – no more.  3  Steps seems doable and I REALLY want to be able to do it.
  5. Hook me! Share what will be fun for me during the undesired activity or what I’ll get after I do the undesired activity.
  6. Give me choices to help me feel in control.
  7. Know that I feel safe with you.  I’m going to show you some emotions I’m not comfortable sharing with others and it might get ugly at times.

When you begin to understand the real meaning of the rigid, anxious, and distracted “NO”, you can begin to address to underlying challenges and then a shift to “MAYBE” is possible.  The beautiful thing is that a sensory “MAYBE” is the same thing as “YES”.