As I was walking my morning walk a couple of days ago, I heard a father ask his son the silliest question. I was walking by a preschool, and it was obvious the distraught 3 year old did not want to get out of the car and go to school. So the father asked this question. "It's time to get out of the car, OK??"Any parent that has worked with me knows this is one of my big pet parenting peeves. I looked at the little boy and willed him to see this for what it really is. It's a question. It's not a definitive statement. I wanted the child to say "No it is not OK.Thank you for asking. Now can we just go home." Alas, that is not what happened. The poor kid was crying even harder by the time I turned the corner. The poor father was exasperated.
Why do parents all around the world say "OK?" when they truly do not want to ask a question? Think about how it is commonly used:
"Time to get your pajamas on, OK?"
"One more cookie, OK?"
"It's homework time, OK?"
"Don't hit the baby, OK?"
I could give example after example. As you read over the previous questions, doesn't it sound silly? To me it sounds weak. It's almost as if the parent is begging the child to cooperate. On top of that it's not honest communication. A question implies a choice but really what parents are saying here is "please agree with me".
Listen for that "OK?" at the end of your sentences and get rid of it. Stop saying it. Communicate honestly. Give the child the information he/she needs.
"It's 7 PM. Pajama Time."
"One more cookie."
"Babies are not for hitting."
Do you hear the difference? These statements are complete. The parent is honest, firm and forthcoming. I am not saying that the child will instantly do what needs to be done. More later on getting children to cooperate. I want parents to be sure of themselves and to set firm limits and boundaries. You just sound silly when you talk like this: "If it's ok with you, if you agree with this idea, then don't hit the baby. But only if it's ok with you." Grrrrr