I often observe parents as they interact with their children and listen to how they use language and tone of voice. All too often, they “talk down” at their kids, rather than having a conversation with them, and that saddens me.
Think back to a time when somebody talked down at you. Maybe it was your boss, maybe it was your own parents and maybe it was your partner. Not a good feeling, right?
Did you feel any respect? How did you think the other person was perceiving you? Did they treat you as an independent, capable human being or see you only from their own perspective? Were they driven by love or perhaps by fear?
Let’s start with the language.
Many parents ask their kids closed or single-choice questions, like “Did you have a good day today?” “Do you have any homework?” “That was great fun, wasn’t it, honey?” “How about we go shopping first and then you can play?” or “Do you want to use the blue crayon for the sky?”
Closed questions are used to instruct and control, because the little person’s choice is limited to agreement or disagreement with something that is actually a statement. So basically, when you ask your child a closed question, you are telling them your opinion and trying to manipulate them into going along with it (or else).
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