Checking for Understanding Or Consensus?

We’re getting in the car now, OK?

You’re going to take a bath, OK?

It’s time to go to the doctor, OK?

I asked questions like this all the time.  Everybody does, right?

But is this what we really want to be asking our kids?  Do we want them to agree with us that it’s time to go to bed, get in the car, eat chicken for dinner?

Or are we asking if they understand that it’s time to go to bed, get in the car, or eat chicken?

What’s the difference between:

  • “We’re getting in the car now, OK?”
  • “We’re getting in the car now.”

In the first question, that little “OK” that got tacked on, seems to say that they have a say in whether they’re getting in the car, going to bed, or eating that chicken.

 

But we all now without asking that SunnyJim does NOT want to get in the car or go to bed.

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Too bad, SunnyJim–we’ve got to go to the store, or we won’t have dinner.

It’s important to give kids–even small ones–choices.  But we’ve got to make sure that we’re giving them choices about things that they honestly have control over.  Do I care if he has the red cup or the purple one?  Not at all, so choose away, kid.  Does it matter if we read Green Eggs and Ham or the soccer book?  Nope.  His choice.

Does it matter that we have to get in the car to pick up his siblings from school?

Yes.  We’re getting in the car.

Period.

So many times when my daughter was a baby, that was exactly how I’d end sentences.  I’d start by asking, “We’re going to get in the car now, OK?”  Then I’d catch myself, saying, “Let me rephrase that–we’re getting in the car now.”  After awhile, it became habit.

In the end, it helps with SunnyJim’s security.  He’s got choices when they’re appropriate.  But he’s got firm limits when we honestly need to do something.  He knows what to expect from me.

963 - copia

That makes life easier for all of us.