I received a very valuable piece of parenting advice once. The advice was to say "yes" to my children as often as possible so that when I needed to say "no" they could respect it.
I must say that 8 years into this parenting adventure, this advice rings true. I find that, for me, the word "no" comes far too quickly. When I know that things will be messy or exhausting or chaotic and they'll require a lot of set-up and clean-up and monitoring, I'm tempted to say "no." I have to ask myself if my "no" comes from a good reason or if it's just my own impulse to keep things neat and clean and simple.
Because when I say "yes" I let my child know that what they want is important, too. I let them know that I hear them, and that I want them to have a say in how their life should go. I open us both up to new experiences and possibilities just by being willing to try out a "yes" before I decide if "no" is really worth it.
Saying "yes" releases me from the power struggle of saying "no" for no good reason. It builds contentment in our relationship because we aren't constantly fighting about what they can and cannot do.
"No" still isn't always well-received, but I know that it's built on a foundation of "yes," and that means our relationship will recover. And because I know that my "no" isn't just instinct or impulse, I can provide a valid reason and respond with confidence. My confidence gives my child confidence - confidence that I know where the boundaries lie, that they will not just keep running to the edge of the world until they fall off, but that they will, indeed, meet up with a fence that keeps them safe.
And so I try to practice "yes" because I know that "no" will come anyway.