Asking questions can be the death of your authority as a parent. Let me relate a fictional but common scenario I have seen played out dozens of times in different playgrounds….
“Sweetie, are you ready to go now?” Silly question. Of course not.
“Honey, do you want to put on your shoes?” Uhhh, no. That would mean I am leaving this wonderful place, which I just told you…NO.
“Sweetie-pie, don’t you wanna go home and take a nap now?” That one makes me almost laugh out loud. The mother *thinks* she is reasoning well with the child, but in reality, she has given the child an option, not a command.
“Honey, let’s get some ice-cream and then we’ll go home, ok?” Well, with that, little junior miss is convinced to leave the playground, but I’m willing to bet she’ll holler and scream her way right out the door if mama doesn’t let her back into that play yard again afterwards.
Folks, leadership at this level is never about playing twenty questions to convince your wee one that you’ve got a bright idea. In fact, the less questions you ask, the better. These kids have no stinkin’ clue as to whether they want chicken fingers or mac and cheese, red crayons or blue markers, toast or bagels, juice or soda. YOU are the parent…NEWSFLASH: These decisions are all your responsibility. You can’t win little one over by the sheer number of choices you give her…In the mind of a child you’ll just convince her that YOU have no idea what you are doing and enforce in her own mind that she is wiser than you.
Never give choices, instead teach them the “why” of the decisions you make (preferably without them always asking why…that can be defiance as well….) as you go along.
“It’s time to go home now honey. We’ve had fun in the play yard and now we all need a nap.”
“Today we are going to have toast and peanut butter for breakfast with fruit. The peanut butter builds up your muscles and the fruit is good for you too.”
Not that you have to justify or explain every decision you make, these are just some simple examples.
Don’t ask if she wants to wear the blue dress or the red skirt, CHOOSE it for her. Teach her HOW to dress well and maybe give her choices at age 15 of what to wear AFTER you have purchased all the clothes that are appropriate without much of her input. Don’t give choices at meals. Serve them their supper and leave it at that. They don’t eat it, they’ll get hungry. At six years old, don’t ask what sports they want to play, choose one that fits your family, achieves some character goals you want to build into them, and strengthens them physically. Don’t ask them so many stinkin’ questions! Lead already! Teach them! Decide!!! You don’t need your child’s approval or permission! You are not trying to bide them over or convince them you’re right!! You are the parent! Lead!
There will be plenty of time for questions…plenty of time for them to learn how to work through decision making by watching you be decisive. You’ll be spending HOURS talking through questions the older they get. Trust me, don’t waste your breath now! You can’t ever WIN or CONVINCE a child of your authority. You ARE the authority and they grow to trust you in that.