Monday, December 29, 2008

Parents: Tell, Kids: ASK

Have you ever heard advice given to parents about telling your kids to do something rather than asking? For example, "It's time to go to bed," instead of, "Are you ready to go to bed?" or "Please clear your dishes," instead of "Could you clear your dishes, please?" By turning requests into a question, kids are given the right to easily say, "no" and the parent ends up arguing or forcing the child to do something that they thought they had an option to do, when in reality, they shouldn't have been given a choice.

I've always believed in this theory and speak this way fairly consistently. That's the good news. The bad news is that it occured to me that I'm teaching my kids to do the same. And I just realized they're developing a bad habit. It didn't bother me until I heard them talking to another adult this way, now it's all my ears will hear.

It's a perfect example of manners and attitudes being caught not taught. I can't blame them, really.

I think it started when Kaylin was just beginning to talk. "Milk, please," was a polite request because she was using her manners and saying, "please," like she was taught. Ryan used to say, "May I have some milk, please?" I remember this for sure. But somewhere along the way, that statement turned into "I want some milk, please." Again, seemingly polite.

The difference, however, is that by making a statement versus asking a question, my kids suddenly sound very demanding. And I'm beginning to sense it in their hearts. You can practically hear them holding back an obnoxious, "ahem...NOW" at the end of the sentence.

So this has become my newest pet peeve and pet project. It takes effort and intention to catch them telling and correct them into asking, but I'm already seeing progress.

I don't want bratty kids. I really, really don't. How is it that when you think you have something mastered (I would well up with pride every time my kids said, "please") there's a whole 'nother element that you didn't see coming? Some days I don't think I'm smart enough for this parenting role. It's sucking my brain cells right out of my head on a moment by moment basis. Whoops! I feel a few more escaping right now...

1 comment:

MamaHenClucks said...

There is nothing more heart changing then hearing my kids using my tone or words on one another! We have been talking through this EXACT same thing!

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