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.
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.