Ask A Question

Posted: February 7, 2019

We so often have to tell our kids what to do.  We run from home to school, from school to the store, from the store back home.  After a hurried dinner, the older siblings have events, to which we need to “drag” the younger ones.  Then bedtime carries another whole set of requests.  By the time our intense kids are done with the day, they’ve been asked to do 100 things they don’t want to do.  Not exactly a formula for a smooth family life!

Many of you have heard me say, instead of issuing an edict: “Time to get ready to go!” or “I said it’s time for dinner, and now I expect you to come,” ask a question instead.  To gain cooperation, acknowledge that the child already KNOWS it’s time for dinner.  Stating it keeps you in a managerial position that you really don’t want.  It prevents the child from learning to “read the family routine” and respond to it for herself.

So instead of saying,”Time for dinner. Everyone wash hands and come to the table!” say, “Did you notice what was going on in the kitchen the past 1/2 hour? Smell anything good?” and pause.  Let the kids “wake up” to your family’s process, figure out that dinner is ready, and come on their own.  How do you get them there?  By sitting down to dinner and waiting.

Some bright kids are insulted by your stating the obvious: “Time to get up and get your clothes on.  Come on, find your jeans and shirt.  Let’s go. Time for breakfast.  When you’re done, get your backpack.”  If someone did that to me, I’d be oppositional, too!

So if your child needs a chart for the daily routine, make a chart and watch him follow it.  But talk about something else so you don’t become the negative stimulus his brain wakes up to every morning, and goes to bed to every night.

Si nce you’re not recounting the routine any more, you may just have time to talk about something truly meaningful.  Share your plans for the day, say what you’re looking forward to, or ask a specific question about your child’s day with sincere curiosity.  That’s the way to avoid triggering opposition.  And by the way, it builds your relationship, too.

Copyright © 2011 Tina Feigal

Send this blog post to someone: