Getting Back Into A Routine: How to Say No (And Be Heard!)

Four simple tips to help you keep control of your family this year

It's time again for early nights and pressed-for-time mornings. Catching buses, making it to after school activites and homework deadlines. No matter if your kid is in pre-school or junior high, a back-to-school routine is crucial. Make the transition as stress-free as possible for you and your fam - set firm boundaries. Here's a no-nonsense way you can say no and let your kid know you mean it. 
Set clear expectations
If you don't have "family rules" write them out or make sure everyone knows them now. When your kids are clear on what's expected of them, it eliminates much of the need to say no in the first place. What are some expectations you might want to set this September? Everyone is expected to get ready for bed at a certain time, no screens after 8 PM, toys are picked up before bed, etc. What expectations do you want to aim for? 
Keep consequences consistent
When you're consistent with your response to broken expectations (loss of certain priveledges, etc.) your kids get trained to know that the expections you've set in place are the real deal. Otherwise, for your kid, it's like pulling on a slot machine handle—sometimes there's a payoff, or, there's never any cost to pulling, so why not just keep trying it? Spare yourself the chaos. Keep your responses consistent. Remember, it's your job is to set the limit, not to control how your child reacts to it. Just focus on what you can control—your own reaction. 
Keep a bigger-picture perspective
Saying no and holding your kid accountable to your expectations and keeping your responses consistent can be incredibly tough. Consistently ask yourself, before you answer a request or respond to a broken rule, “How do I want my kid to be as they grow older? What do I want them to learn from this?” Talk yourself through it if a tantrum erupts. Know that this is totally normal and it'll be okay once things calm down. Support yourself in your thoughts. If you let yourself entertain the negative thoughts about how difficult this is or that you can't handle this, it'll be much harder for everyone. 
Remember: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure
In the hustle of daily life, it can be easy to get caught up in moving kids along from place to place, task to task. Before you know it, you've spent an entire day, week or couple weeks doing damage control, and not really "living" as a family. Ask yourself, how many minutes per day do your kids get your undivided attention and affection? Do you show your kids they are heard and truly cared about? When you make this a priority, you'll defuse arguments and make meltdowns much fewer. To be sure—a little prevention goes a long way. 

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