A Lifetime of Yes Moments

Have you read
the book Yes Day! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal? Generally I love *all* of her work. Still, the book got packed away in the Goodwill box during our Get Rid of 100 Things Weekend.

Yesterday I shared this photo with you as part of our ongoing Photo a Day Project on Instagram. Children don’t need non-stop preposterous yes, yes, yes, for a full day. Children need a lifetime of small “yes moments.”

Below are 5 Tips for Saying “Yes”:

  1. Keep an open schedule. If you are constantly rushed from one thing to the next there is no time to say “yes.” Leave gaps in your schedule for uncharted adventure.
  2. Pause before saying “No.” This week the girls and I found a sandy nook on the river. When they asked “Can we get wet?” my immediate thought was, “No.” Train yourself to pause before blurting out “No.”
  3. Ask yourself the following questions before responding to your child’s request:
    Will saying “yes” hurt or bother anyone?
    Can the child learn anything from the situation?
    Does it really (really) matter one way or another?
  4. Give them the responsibility of their choice. In the photo above it was a windy 70 degree day and we were a good 20 minute hike from the car. My response? “You’re welcome to play in the water as long as there are no problems walking back to the car.” We then proceeded to enjoy 45 minutes of unplanned relaxation. The girls created a little town with twigs and sticks while I sat on the shore and read my book. Their giggles were priceless.
  5. Reward good behavior with more “Yeses.” The entire walk back to the car I didn’t hear an “I’m cold” whine or a peep of complaint from either girl. Will I be more likely to say “yes” next time they ask to take a quick dip? YES.

Homework: Take a mental note of how often you immediately respond “No.” Practice pausing.

WARNING: Saying “yes” may make you feel physically uncomfortable. Go for it anyhow!

Would you share some of your “yes” stories with us? Saying “yes” doesn’t come naturally for me. I’d love to hear additional examples.


P.S. Below is an example of a “yes moment” from a recent trip to Texas.

Children don't need non-stop preposterous yes, yes, yes, for a full day. Children need a lifetime of small "yes moments."

Children don't need non-stop preposterous yes, yes, yes, for a full day. Children need a lifetime of small "yes moments."


  1. smallfriendly says

    I love this post so much. With a willfull toddler no can become more of a habit than a thoughtful response. I never want to say “because I said so” so I explain my reason for each no. It is a great exercise because you can discover that sometimes your reasons are silly or unnessecary and then you get to say yes instead!

  2. says

    Yes! I love this. I’m also a Default No-sayer. It has been a constant struggle to catch myself but the pay off is priceless. Thanks for the reminder to catch my unnecessary no’s!

  3. Jennifer Haas says

    Aw, fantastic! I’ve been trying to consciously say yes more. It usually turns out wonderfully when I do! Great post.

  4. says

    Lovely post! My last Yes! moment was when my son was offered a dessert by someone else. I don’t usually let him have many sweets at his age, but the look on his face was priceless. :)

  5. Suchamazingthings says

    My husband and I have a long-standing policy of saying “yes” unless we have a good reason for saying no. Occasionally our “yes” may come with limitations, such as putting a time limit on something when I would feel that we don’t really have a lot of time to spare for an activity. I’d rather say “yes” to letting them do something for a short period of time than having to say “no” altogether.

  6. Lindsey says

    I adore this. I write often of the magic that descends in those hours when I say yes instead of no. I want that to be my default but truthfully continue to struggle to make that so. Thanks for these thoughtful suggestions and reminders!

  7. Shannonbourke_37 says

    I took my 18 month old to the park today, he wanted to splash in the puddles- my automatic reaction was to think- no you will get all wet- but then as simple as it sounds, clothes will dry, those few moments of wild happiness are a lot more important! I watched as he splashed his way through the puddles, reminding myself to say yes more often!

  8. Stephwj says

    This reminds me of two times on our recent trip to Texas. (Maybe it’s easier to say “yes” on vacation?) One time, we were at the park, and didn’t know they had opened the Spray park early because it was so warm. My girls asked me if they could go in the spray park in their clothes. We were a 2 min walk from where we were staying, so I didn’t see any harm in saying “yes.” On another trip, we hiked to the top of Enchanted Rock. I had brought a change of clothes for each girl for some reason, and I was so glad I did. It was another HOT Texas day and after the hike, the girls asked if they could splash in the creek. I was able to say “yes” and we had one of the funnest moments of our trip again. Now to incorporate “yes” more into our everyday life…

  9. Peggychandler says

    This reminds me of my mother-in law. She’s no longer with us but I remember so many things she use to say. She was a school teacher for 30+ years and knew so much about gaining cooperation from children. One example: If our girls asked for a treat or sweet before meal time, her answer, without hesitation, would be,”Sure you can, just as soon as we finish our lunch ( or dinner)……It would have been so easy to snap the word “no”, that would have started further negative discussion, but her agreeing tone and “yes” answer they were looking for stopped it all. Such wisdom.

  10. says

    ‘No’ is such a knee-jerk response for us adults, isn’t it? I wonder if it’s just busyness and age-induced caution and logic or if it’s the result of our own childhood requests that were met, time and time and time again, with ‘no’s.’ Anyway, love this!

  11. Dayna D Abraham says

    I love this book! I love this post. However, I have heard the list my kids have made for their yes day , and I am not sure how to make it all happen. We do wishlists though every few months where we try to get to everything on the list. :)

  12. leiah says

    My mom’s general rule was that we could do what we wanted as long as it wasn’t dangerous or sinful. We had to take responsiblity for our action. With my 2 year old son, I have basically decided that clothes don’t matter. His funnest times are when he gets wet and/or dirty. I normally always have an extra set in the car.

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