I'm contrary. This is no secret. Anyone who knows me or reads my blog knows this about it. It's not something I do on purpose. It's just the way I am. My initial response to just about everything is "no". My dad is the same way, and of course, so is Michael.
There are actually some positives to being naturally contrary. It has made me very resistant to peer pressure and to hard selling techniques. It also allows me to see problems in different, and often advantageous ways. I hope it serves Michael as well as it has served me.
But, there are some major downsides to being contrary. The most obvious is that it's really annoying. People do not like being told "no" over and over again. It get's old fast. Especially, if it's just a reactionary "no" and not a well thought out "no".
However, in addition to being annoying, it can also hurt the person being contrary. I've learned this lesson the hard way. More than once. One time in particular, I had an employee who had great ideas and I was shutting down his creativity with too many no's. Fortunately, I had someone who was able to point that out to me and I was able to correct my behavior. Learning to think about my no's before letting them fall out of my mouth has been very beneficial to both my relationships as well as my career.
Around 4.5, Michael started to tone down his reflexive no's. I really enjoyed being able to discuss things with him in a reasonable manner. Not only was it less stressful for Andy and I, it also made things easier for Michael.
That times seems to have passed, and Michael has turned the contrary up to 11 recently. I'm pretty sure that if you told him he was the sweetest little boy in the world that he would disagree with you. It's gotten that bad.
I've started using the old tactics that I used to use with him again. I'll present my case, whether it be going to the book store or if he wants dinner, and acknowledge his initial "no". Then, five minutes later I'll tell him that if he really does want ______ than he needs to decided now or the option is no longer possible. In the past, this was sufficient to give him time to think about what he really wanted. Now, it's not always effective.
This has resulted in tears at bedtime on several occasions because as soon as I tuck him in he decides that he must have whatever it was he refused earlier. He's then faced with the decision of having me tuck him in or having me walk out while he's still sitting up in bed crying. We would both rather avoid this situation, but allowing him to continue to not think about his decisions doesn't help him in the long run.
So, we have been having periodic discussions about taking time to think about his decisions before answering. It's OK to say I don't know or to ask for a moment to think about things. I'm trying to get him to think things through before he responds. It's not an easy process, and I don't expect it to improve over night, but hopefully with time he'll be able to take a moment to think about his initial reaction and determine if that's the best reaction.