A Lesson Learned: Don’t Ask, Tell

What is it about the two letters, “N-O” that make a child feel so powerful? I’m not really sure, but if you have the answer…let me in on your secret!

Lately Big Brother has been using this word quite often. After evaluating some of the situations where this word seems to be said most often, I found a pattern that may partially explain.

My husband teases me when we go to a restaurant because when it is my turn to order I say something like, “May I have _____?” rather than just telling the server what I want. This is the exact same thing I apparently do with my own children.

I’ll ask Big Brother things like, “Are you ready to eat?” “Do you want to go potty?” “Do you want me to help you with that?” Of course, his answer is frequently a big, fat “NO.” And I don’t blame him…if he has the choice (which he really doesn’t, but the way that I phrase the question makes it sound like he does), I wouldn’t want to stop the fun thing that I am doing to do something as mundane is eating or using the potty.

So, I am curbing my behavior in order to impact Big Brother’s behavior. I’m no longer asking…I’m telling. And not in a big, mean authoritarian way…in a loving, guiding way.

I’ll keep you posted on whether my behavior change results in fewer “No’s” around here…

Parenting is certainly a journey. The more of the journey we travel, the more I realize that I have got  A LOT to learn. :)

What has been a lesson you have learned this week?


  1. This is great advice! I say, a-a-a- to Sophia or No and apparently I shake my finger at her. She just told her Daddy a-a-a- and shook her finger at him last night! ha! She is certainly picking up on more than I think! This is great advice and I'll take it! Thanks!

  2. I do this too — somehow I feel more comfortable asking a question than making a statement (I have also had to curb myself from starting sentences to my husband with, "Do you want to…", when really I want to.)

    A friend of mine had the same problem and gave me the advice that if I just can't help making it a question, say, "Got it?" at the end. So instead of "Do you want to help me with that?", say, "I need your help with that, got it?"

  3. I do the exact same thing. In order to make it an order and not a "do you want to" I started to say "ok?" Now my 2.5 yr old says "I'm going to do this, ok? Ok? ok?" And "ok?" continues until we say yes. "Ok" also continues after we say no, because when I say "it's time to eat, ok?" I'm not really asking if she's ok with it or not, but she thinks I am!

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