Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Works for Me - Don't Ask

Here's a quick parenting tip, courtesy of John Rosemond: If you want your children to do something, don't ask.

Yes, it is as simple as that. If there is something your children need to do, don't ask.

Don't say: "Are you ready to pick up your toys?"
Say: "It's time to pick-up!"

Don't say: "Let's get ready to go, okay?"
Say: "We're leaving in 5 minutes, get ready!"

The exclamation point is my way of indicating that you are using a cheerful but firm voice here. I hear Mothers (and Dads!) all the time asking their children to do something. They may think they're giving commands but they end every sentence with the ubiquitous "Okay?" So an entire generation (including me) has become the equivalent of Parenting Valley Girls. If you must end a sentence with a question use something like, "Understand?" or in particularly dire circumstances the bad grammar but effective, "Got it?"

Here's a clue: going to bed, taking a bath, picking up toys, leaving a friend's house, sitting quietly in church, all these things are NOT "okay" with your child. They are not going to sign off on this course of action so Don't Ask!*

It works for me!

* Obligatory disclaimer: I'm not proposing we all become tyrants, steamrolling over our children and their wishes. Sometimes it's okay to ask, i.e. "Do you want the blue shirt or the red shirt?" or "Shall we go to the park or the zoo?" And if you actually use the word "shall" when speaking to your children, don't tell me, it will depress me too much.


Kathy Days said...

I love John Rosemond-- most of the time-- Thanks for this great tip/reminder!

Holly said...

You are exactly right! Preach it, sister!

SAHMmy Says said...

I totally agree with this! My brother and sis in law kept complaining about the tantrums my 18 month old nephew was "always" throwing. My mom watches him at least four days a week and had never seen a fit. She finally had the opportunity to observe them while shopping--they asked him, "Are you ready to get in the cart?" Tantrum begins as they put him in anyway. "Do you want a time out?" Tantrum escalates because he doesn't realize that's impossible in the current setting. "Do you want to go home?" Tantrum reaches hysterical level when they keep on shopping. Don't ask a yes-or-no question unless you're prepared to get either answer!

Amy D said...

Great point! I've heard this before, and yet every once in a while I catch myself asking a question and hoping my 4 yr old doesn't 'catch' me in it, like... "Will you pick up your toys, please?" Wouldn't I feel sheepish if he just answered me? Lol.

By the way... I think you mentioned some while back about reading The Strong Willed Child. I've just finished it. What did you think?

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