16/12/2013 06:44 GMT | Updated 11/02/2014 05:59 GMT

Saying "No" to Your Children Is One of the Best Gifts You Can Give Them

It's difficult to see our loved ones having problems. It's natural to want to protect the people we love. It's especially painful to be a parent and watch your children suffer, whether from their own choices or yours. We want life to be as smooth and easy as possible for them.

Sometimes parents go to great lengths to prevent their children from experiencing disappointment, loss or sadness. How wonderful for those little ones who get to have everything they want all the time!

That is, it's wonderful until the children are old enough to go to other people's homes or to go to school where Mummy and Daddy can no longer protect them and make sure they don't have to feel the sting of losing or not getting their way.

It's understandable that we want to give them the best of everything. But does that mean they should have it? Absolutely not.

What happens when the other kids want a turn? What happens when someone else wins the election as class president? What happens when they don't get into the university of their choice, or the job they want?

It sucks but life is filled with rejection and disappointment. It's not our job to keep our children happy and give them everything they want. It's our job to teach them how to handle those rejections and disappointments. It's our job to teach them to be gracious losers and to congratulate the winner. It's our job to teach them to share and to give others a chance or a turn.

If children are taught that the world revolves around them, they're in for a pretty harsh bunch of lessons just as soon as they start leaving the nest and dealing with real people outside the over-protective walls of their homes. If everyone caters to them and lets them call all the shots, if they are allowed to make the rules at home, to tell their parents how things will be, and to ignore anything that remotely resembles discipline or rules made by someone else, they will be in for some very rude awakenings that could derail them so fast, they won't know what hit them when they get out in the real world.

When we let children make the decisions for their general care and upbringing, we might think we're doing them a huge favour by making childhood seem like one long trip to Disneyland. But in reality, when they don't know where the boundaries are, that much freedom is terrifying for them. They don't know how to handle it.

It's kind of like the difference between letting them play in a big meadow with a protective fence all round the perimeter versus having them tread water in the middle of the ocean where they can't see land. Rules, limits and boundaries make children feel secure. They don't want all that power and freedom. It's too much responsibility. They test the limits because they need to know where they are, not because they don't want any!

Allowing children to have their way all the time is the quickest way to ensure that they have trouble socially, too. They will be seen as selfish and demanding. They will become bossy, insisting that things go their way and not caring at all about the others in the group. They will have tantrums when they don't get what they want. Nobody wants to watch that. Especially not other kids.

Chances are that these kids will have trouble making - and keeping - friends. And later, they will struggle to maintain romantic relationships. They are destined to be controlling, bossy and manipulative. They're destined to have trouble with colleagues and issues at work.

Do your kids a favour. Tell them "No" and tell them regularly. When you say "Yes" it will mean so much more to them and when Life or other people say "No", they'll know how to handle it without coming apart at the seams.

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