Five Ways to Tell Children What to Do


Monday’s Parenting Thought

Five ways to tell children what to do.

  1. Tell rather than ask. Don’t say, “Do you want to go shopping?” if the message you are trying to send is, “It’s time to go buy the birthday present.”
  2. Be clear that you are giving a direction. Don’t add “OK” at the end of your directive. (“We’re going to the party now, OK?”) This turns your directive into a marshmallow question – soft, sticky and messy.
  3. Only ask a question, if you are prepared to accept whatever answer you get. If you ask your child, “Do you want to go to the party?” you are saying that it’s OK if he does and OK if he doesn’t.
  4. If you mean “no,” say “no.” Don’t answer a request with “we’ll see” or “in a minute” and then never get around to doing the request. Don’t say “maybe” if you know you are not going to do the request. Don’t answer a request with a question like “Why do you want that?” or “Have you asked Aunt Jane?” Just say “no,” if you mean “no.”
  5. Correct a child by telling him what not to do, why he shouldn’t do it, and what he should do instead.
Inspired by the picture book, MORRIS THE ARTIST.
More about children and directives at The Benefits of Art, Choices, and Discipline: Part II.