Saturday 26 October 2013

The Sunday Parenting Party - When you shouldn't offer choices

You know the expression "don't ask the question if you don't want to hear the answer". Well I have realised I need to apply this to Goblin. All too often I ask something in the form of a question when really I don't want him to have a choice, I want him to do what I want.
Some folks may feel uncomfortable with the fact that I want to 'give a command'. But let's face it there are times in life when a command is what is needed. 
You don't say
"Would you like to stop at the edge of the road so you don't get run over by that big truck?" 
You say 
"Stop the edge of the road so you don't get run over by that big truck."
It's obvious when it's life and death. But there are less extreme times when you could choose to give your child the option.
"Would you like to brush your teeth now?"
Is fine as a question as long as you are genuinely happy with the response 
"No thank you"
Or in my case 
"4 minutes" 
(everything is "in 4 minutes". If you say "we need to leave in 20 minutes" the response from Goblin will be "no, in 4 minutes" - he's not great with numbers!).

My problem is that all too often I ask something of Goblin as a question, when actually I don't want to give him a choice, I want him to do something right now. By asking him a question and then getting annoyed or not accepting the answer, I am giving a really confusing message. 'I care about your choices, oh wait no I don't'. 
At least if I give him a command I am making it clear that in this instance I believe my opinion matters over his. He can argue with that, but at least he knows that choice is 'do it Mummy's way, or try and convince her to do it his way.' If I invite his opinion through a question, and then get stroppy about the answer, that invalidates his opinion despite a pretence of caring about it. 

So my new addition to my parenting 'to do' list is "be more careful with the way I phrase things".
Taming the Goblin

Posts I'm featuring for the last two weeks are
Average is A-OK with this mom ~ Redicovered Families
Some days I feel super ~ Makeovers and motherhood
On approval and parenting ~ Music teaching and parenting
How to prepare your daughter for her first period ~ Parentdish
Struggling to Stay Present ~ Mommy, for Real
Motherhood and Making Changes ~ Crafting Connections
Welcome to The Sunday Parenting Party, hosted by Dirt and Boogers, Play Activities, Crayon Freckles, Taming the Goblin, The Golden Gleam, Prickly Mom, and The Tao of Poop. The SPP is place for readers to find ideas on nurturing, educating, and caring for children, as well as honest posts about the stresses of being a parent or caregiver. Links to reviews and giveaways are welcome as long as they are relevant to the topic. All parenting philosophies are welcome with one exception: please do not link to posts promoting physical discipline, as this is something we would feel uncomfortable having on our blogs. (P.S. By linking up you agree that your post and photos are Pinterest, Sulia, G+ and FB friendly. We will be showcasing ideas on The Sunday Parenting Party Pinterest board.)


  1. Thank you for hosting the party and thank you for featuring my post about Parenting and Approval!

    I enjoyed reading your post. Yes, often children need to be told what to do until they are ready to make the right choice. I work with younger teachers at university/teacher prep program. We often need to talk about the same thing. Giving choice is good but when you want a certain outcome you need to be firm and tell kids what they should do.


  2. This post made me stop and think as I have been guilty of slipping into this with my twins. You are so right though and I shall be trying a little harder to do the same as you now! x

  3. That's a very good point. It happens to me all the time - when I expect my toddler to do things my way. You're right, sometimes it's better to tell them what you want rather than give a choice you really don't mean to.


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