Parenting Tip: Don’t Ask a Question if “No” is Not an Answer

Think about how many questions you ask your kids in a given day – especially when you are trying to get them to do something. Questions like:

  • “Honey, will you brush your teeth now?”
  • “It’s time to do your homework, okay?”

When trying to get their kids to do the things they should be doing, like making their beds or doing other chores, parents often resort to asking for their kids’ cooperation.

a slash through a question markWhat would happen if you asked your kids, “Do you want to clean your room now?” Hmmm. Let’s see, yes or no? It would be nice to think that your kids would respond, “Yes, Mom. I’ll do that right away.”

But chances are, given the choice, they are much more likely to say “no.” Now you’ve backed yourself into a corner.

So today’s tip is: Don’t ask a question if “no” is not an acceptable answer.

Often parents phrase their demands and expectations for their children in the form of a question because it feels nicer to ask – rather than to tell – children what to do. And that is true.

There is a time and a place to ask for things in a polite manner, like “Do you want to read another book before lights out?” or “Would you like to wear your red shirt today?” And, you should use such questions whenever your children actually do have a choice in the matter.

But there are also times when you really want or expect your children to do something or behave in a certain way. In those cases, don’t ask a question to which “no” is not going to be an acceptable answer.

It is much more effective to use a direct approach and state clearly what it is you want them to do. For example, you can say: “I need you to clean your room before your friend comes over.”

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