For Families

Not teaching a child how to say “no”?!!

May 29, 2020

I definitely didn’t start writing blogs with the intent to try and prove to anyone that AIMS is better than this or that therapeutic modality.  We don’t even see AIMS as a competitor to ABA, Floortime, Playtherapy or any of the other ones, as we feel it’s more a “way of life”, rather than a specific therapeutic modality.  Saying that, there is one thing that I strongly disagree with that we were taught as ABA therapists.  We were told not to teach a child to say “no” as, and I quote one of the supervisors “they will say no to everything”.  The “yes/no” lesson was implemented much later in the kids’ programs… 

I think this was the day I fell out of love with what I thought was a brilliant way of teaching a child.  Of course, once you open your eyes in any situation, other tactics or strategies don’t make sense either, but for today, I will focus on why it’s crucial to teach your child how to say “no” or “break” in whatever mode they choose to communicate in.  

I understand from a behaviorist’s point of view that they are concerned about the amount of “mands” (requests) they receive per day from a child.  They want to show their supervisor that they can increase these “mands” on a daily basis… Thinking of trying to increase my vocabulary on a daily basis makes me feel quite anxious, but okay.  The problem that I have is not helping your client (or child) to state what they don’t want and how to request for a break.  

Kids are kids, they will always try and get out of things they don’t necessarily like – such as completing boring homework 🙂 but that’s not why I am uneasy about the philosophy of not teaching a child to say no – it’s the essence of what we are teaching that child, who will become a young adult and constantly be reminded of this lesson.  You can’t say no, you have to complete what I tell you to complete.  I am in charge of you.  I beg all therapists to please make sure they firstly help their clients to be able to say “no” or “break”.  

The strategy that we use is to always, from the start of sessions, include a “break” card.  They are always able to ask for breaks – we can keep these short and fun, but they can receive a break whenever they need to move away from a task, a group, a person or a situation.  We also teach our kids to say “no” (in whatever mode of communication is easiest for them) from the start.  We have seen how our kids are willing to return when they see that you listen to their requests.  Is that not a better philosophy to instil in our kids – mutual respect?  

Anyways, let me know your thoughts as I’m sure I might upset a few ABA therapists (maybe even some of my ex-colleagues) who believe that they do ABA differently… I thought that too once and although I still believe my sessions were always fun, there are definitely some strategies that I feel upset in retrospect for implementing – such as “flooding” one of our kids with the word “sorry” as he didn’t believe that accidents are not on purpose.  We were told to “flood” him with the word “sorry” (mention this throughout his sessions way too frequently).  That’s just cruel.  We, at AIMS Global and AIMS Online have made a promise to all our current and future clients that we will show them mutual respect, always.  

Enjoy the weekend,  
Karla