Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

My kids hate the word “no.” For my daughter, hearing “no” when she wants something instantly takes her from an intelligent, witty five year old to a hysterical, weeping, temper-tantrum-throwing sack of crazy. For my son, “no” seems to be one of those words that exist just outside of his sound frequency—he acts as if he actually can’t hear it. Lately, his trick when he wants to do something that I’ve said “no” to is to point his finger at me and say: “Be right back, Mommy. Be right back,” as he goes to do just the thing I’ve told him not to.

Sometimes, when one of my “nos” has just hurtled the day off course and sent our moods all into a spiral, I find myself thinking, “Why can’t they just listen to me??? Why can’t they just $#@*&! go with the flow?!?”

And then it hits me. I hate the word “no”, too.

In fact, “no” is possibly my least favorite word on the planet. If I was on one of those talk shows where they ask you all sorts of questions, and they asked me what word I hate, I’d be hard-pressed to come up with a word I like less than that tiny word “no”. I don’t like to be told no, in whatever form the “no” comes in. I don’t like to have my own flow blocked. I don’t like to be shut down. I find myself immediately resistant to rules simply because they are rules and that means someone else decided what I can and can’t do. I want to do what I want to do, because I have good reason to want to do it! (I say, to myself.) I'm truly, genuinely shocked any time I get in trouble for not following rules-- because I would have followed the rules if they suited me, but clearly they didn't and therefore I'm making a choice that's better for me.  “No” is so pesky, it’s like a little gnat that I just want to swat away. So, when I hear or feel a “no” coming my way, I find myself pouting and sulking and generally turning into a teenager (or a toddler), even if only in my head.


It occurs to me now that I should probably be more aware of the “me” that is showing up in my kids, whether through genetics or modeling. It also occurs to me that I should possibly consider saying “no” less and “yes” more, given that whole karma “you get what you give” kind of thing.

It further occurs to me that my son is a genius, and that maybe I should test out his strategy the next time I feel a “no” coming on.

Are you giving what you want to get?    


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Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.