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Mothering › Child Articles › "We're Going To Leave Now, Okay?"

"We're Going To Leave Now, Okay?"


Many parents with young children tack on “Okay?” at the end of their sentences, turning what is intended as a statement of fact, “We need to leave the park now,” into a question, “We need to leave the park now, okay?”

Adding this question to the end of the statement presumedly creates a dialogue about the leaving. The problem is the parent often didn’t intend to discuss whether or not leaving was to the child’s liking.

The “okay?” is a set up because it implies that the child has a voice in the decision but resistance from the child (“I don’t want to leave!”) is often met with exasperation from the parent: “But, we’ve been at the park for hours,” “But, all your friends are gone,” “But, you didn’t even want to come to the park,” “But, it’s getting dark and cold,” “But, it’s supper time,” “But, we have somewhere else to be.”

All these reasons may be true, and they support the parent’s reasoning for it being time to go, but these reasons often have no bearing on the child’s emotional response to having to leave.

Cleaner, clearer and more direct communication would be: “We need to leave the park in five minutes. Enjoy your last activity.”

“But, Mom, I don’t want to leave in 5 minutes.”

“I understand, darling, I don’t particularly wish to go etiher, it is lovely here, however, we have another committment and we will be leaving soon to honor that.”

If you are calm and clear, it is easier for the child to follow your lead. You may be hopeful that your plans are in line with your child’s wants, but you are not asking, “Okay?” when in truth, it doesn’t matter if it is okay or not, because you need to leave; the “okay” starts to take on a pleading tone, because the parent wants the departure to be smooth without a fuss.

There may be fuss, there may be dissapointment and that is Okay.

More to come on handling your child’s disapointment.



Classes & Coaching in Los Angeles & phone: LoveParentingLA@gmail.com

Classes & Coaching in Los Angeles & phone: LoveParentingLA@gmail.com

Jessica Williams

About Jessica Williams

Jessica Williams created L.O.V.E. Parenting with a series of techniques for effective communication, deepened connection and more joy in parenting and life. Jessica is also the creator of www.UltimateParentingCourse.com with the best of today's progressive parenting experts together in one program. Jessica is a featured expert internationally on both Mothering.com’s Ask An Expert and the upcoming www.KidsInTheHouse.com. Jessica is a regular contributor to Mothering Magazine’s All Things Mothering, LA Parent Magazine, LA Mom Magazine & DailyBuzzMoms. She has been interviewed on television and radio and taught workshops at family wellness centers, schools and doctor’s offices. Her BirthKit has helped women have a transformational & empowering birth. Jessica maintains a private coaching practice in her native Los Angeles where she lives with her husband and their three children. “Truly amazing woman. I love her advice.”—Carrie-Anne Moss. “All you have shared has helped tremendously.”—Lisa Bonet. “I am experiencing nothing short of a miracle thanks to your laser beam approach.” –Andrea Bendewald.

Comments (8)

I had an "Okay?" moment yesterday. I read these wise words and the perfect time. Actually, yesterday would have been even more perfect. Thanks! Rachael
Thanks for writing in. It's almost an unconscious habit for so many of us, myself included! We do our best, and recognizing the pattern helps. Love, Jessica www.LoveParentingLA.com
Awesome post Jessica, great reminder on the use of clear language as a channel for communication. Adding one more layer to the cake, I find that using the word "need", "we need to leave the park in 5 minutes", "we need to get our shoes on"..... is really implying no choice. Recently I have been toying with the idea of letting go of "needing to" anything, trying to see everything as a choice and owning my choice by using "I would like to" or "I plan on ", rather than "need". So much to explore in the use of language and what it conveys to our kids and us.
Oh, Nadine, I love it! Thanks for layering the cake! Love, Jessica www.LoveParentingLA.com
As a mother, and now as a grandmother, hearing parents tag "okay?" onto their requests has always been a pet peeve. Thank you, Jessica, for pinpointing so brilliantly why this is not only unhelpful, but confusing to a child. Also, thanks for giving an example of how to better to make the request and how to react to the child's possible disappointment.
Wow, thank you for the approval from a Grandmother! That means the world to me. My great-aunt told me that it was all about clear communication in this life...All the best, Jessica www.LoveParentingLA.com
Thank you for writing this clear and sensible piece. I briefly fell into the "okay?" business when my son was a toddler and was thankfully set straight by a more experienced mom. She suggested breaking the habit by substituting another word for "okay?" so the meaning would be different but the pattern of speech would be the same (easier than switching cold-turkey to a new way of communicating.) So I chose the expression "ya hear?" which invited my son to acknowledge my words without asking for his approval. It worked like a charm, and gave my communication with my son a warm, confident tone instead of a pleading one. I would suggest this method to anyone trying to break the "okay?" habit!
Amanda, I LOVE it! I think I'll adapt that as well. Sometimes I've said, "Tell me that you've heard me," but I like the lightness of your "Ya hear" a lot better. Thanks for contributing. Love, Jessica www.LoveParentingLA.com
Mothering › Child Articles › "We're Going To Leave Now, Okay?"