Your rules and expectations of your children should be something you TELL your children – not something you ASK them to do.
On the other hand, there are times you want to make a request of your children. Something they can decide whether to do or not do. These are times when your children can learn about responsibility. They can learn that responsibility more easily if make it clear that you want a straight yes or no in answer to your request. Don’t accept a yes with no follow-through. Don’t accept ignoring the question. Don’t accept changing the subject and not answering the question. Push for a straight yes or no so that your children go on record for what they have agreed to.
Child doesn’t say yes or no which does not teach responsibility:
Adult: “Will you clean up the TV room?”
Child: “I have homework to do.” TV room doesn’t get cleaned up. Child has not been responsible for saying no. Child has not been responsible for saying yes and actually cleaning the room.
Expecting a yes or no to the question which helps teach responsibility:
Adult: Is that a yes or a no?
Child: Ignores the question.
Adult: I need a yes or no so I can figure out how to get the TV room cleaned up.
Adult: OK. Thanks for telling me. I will see if Jane can do it.
(Note: In this case, cleaning the TV room was not the child’s chore. This was a request. The child was free to say yes or no. If cleaning the TV room was required of the child, the adult should have told the child to clean it and not ask for it to be cleaned.)
Inspired by: SELF-ESTEEM: A FAMILY AFFAIR by Jean Illsley Clarke.