Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Open Ended

Why do parents ask their kids open ended questions when trying to get them to do something? They know what the answer is going to be, a big fat "no!"  Like asking your child, "do you want to put your toys up now?" Uhm, no way jose!

Tonight I actually asked my baby during bathtime, "are you ready to get out now?" I started to laugh at myself.  She is still non-verbal but I was thinking, "what kind of choice giving am I teaching her?"  I know the ins and outs of choice giving and getting your child to cooperate.  Making mistakes as a counselor parent is one reason I started this blog, to talk about the silly mishaps that a child counselor who knows better, will still make.

But when we want our kids to do something, we have to state it as a fact such as, "okay, it's time to get out of the bathtub now."  There is no option. And we can't go back on our words, that will just fuel inconsistency and more temper tantrums.  I also usually give a 1 or 5 minute warning before I give a command.  That way they know what to expect and no surprises.

And what about giving a choice? I have talked before about how to give choices when setting limits here. The best example is the Cookies and Choices theory.  It goes like this: When your child wants the whole bag of Oreos, you give them 2 choices: "You can choose to have 1 Oreo or no Oreos, what do you choose?" Not 3, 4 , or 6 choices. And you have to use the word, "choice" in there too.  That way they feel that they are making the decision and not being told what to do :)

So the next time I want my child to cooperate or do something, I will definitely make it a statement!  No open ended questions for me.  And if something requires a choice like what to wear for the day, or what to eat for breakfast, you give them 2 choices.  And remember to be 'silly' with them too if they start to show signs of frustration.  Silliness prevents a lot of fussies :)




  1. I can totally relate, I once asked my 4 year old if he wanted to go to bed..I think I was half asleep when I said it but after I said it, I knew I was in trouble!

  2. How funny. The best thing about being a parent is getting 'do-overs' so even if we say something we know is wrong, there will be plenty of times we can try again!