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Toddlers. TELL don't ASK...

(82 Posts)
granny4hugs Mon 29-Jul-19 14:20:35

My eldest daughter and hubby are wonderful, hard working parents with two little ones. My grandson (3 in August) is testing boundaries as they do. One thing I've noticed is the way they both ask rather than state/tell. "Shall we go to the shops?" "Shall we go to the park?" Giving such young children big choices is wrong and stressful. Mostly there is no actual choice anyway i.e. they have to go to the shop or mum/dad decided a trip the park is what the family needs then they have to cajole or force the child to go/do something after giving the impression there was a choice. Which there wasn't/shouldn't have been. Stressful for them when he gets upset. Confusing for him. Frustrating to observe. We talked about it and I don't think they were even aware they were doing it but lots of parents seem to. WHY? When did parents stop taking responsibility for daily decisions?
Being in charge of family decisions is hard enough for adults - why are they delegating it to babies?
One of the joys of early childhood is freedom. "Get your shoes on we are going for a walk". He may still not like it but at least he wont feel conned and confused. And 99 times out of 100 he will love it.

sodapop Mon 29-Jul-19 14:27:35

Yes I agree granny4hugs too many choices don't work. I would say
"We are going to the park, do you want to play football or go on the swings"
It's good for children to be able to make decisions but they have to be relative to their age and safety. Too often parents want to be the child's friend, they should be the responsible parent.

quizqueen Mon 29-Jul-19 14:29:35

Agreed. When my eldest granddaughter ( 8) tries to take control too much, I tell her she can make her all own decisions when she earns her own money and has her own house!

Jane10 Mon 29-Jul-19 14:30:04

My 8 year old DGS in a strop when not allowed something shouted out 'I never agreed to come on this holiday'! Obviously he'll need to check his contract.

Callistemon Mon 29-Jul-19 14:32:11

Sometimes an element of choice is good but asking whether or not to go on an outing which has been already decided is not.

For example asking 'which foot first?' when putting on shoes gives the toddler some choice but no negotiation about whether or not the shoes are going on. The same with a coat or cardigan. They do think they have a little bit of control (but not in the main decision-making).

Saying "We're going to the shops. Shall we call at the swings on the way home?" is fine too imo. It adds a bit of incentive to the trip.

lemongrove Mon 29-Jul-19 14:32:52

Agree with you, we used to say ‘we are going’ now a lot of parents say ‘shall we’ or ‘Do you want to’?
Goodness knows why!
They even ask toddlers what they want for lunch.

lemongrove Mon 29-Jul-19 14:34:32

Jane10 grin that made me laugh.

Callistemon yes, good idea re the choice.

gillybob Mon 29-Jul-19 14:37:44

I always use "shall we......" or "would you like to....." when I am talking to my DGC. I even ask the baby what she would like for her lunch . I really can't see it being a problem and I find it better than the dictatorial attitude my father had when I was a child. "You will do it or else...."

Callistemon Mon 29-Jul-19 14:46:11

How old is the baby? shock
I never remember asking a baby what she'd like although I did ask DGD2 when she came to stay what she wanted for dinner. Then didn't have that! She was more than happy with what I did make though.

We had no choice at all when I was a child but I don't remember it being dictatorial; perhaps after rationing we were happy with most things.

Callistemon Mon 29-Jul-19 14:46:40

except school dinners

ffinnochio Mon 29-Jul-19 14:47:13

It all depends on the context.

Who was it that said “ context is everything “ ?

gillybob Mon 29-Jul-19 14:48:34

She's 15 months Callistemon but she's very advanced grin

gillybob Mon 29-Jul-19 14:50:26

She normally just has whatever happens to be on offer but I do like to line a few options up and let her choose, especially her yog yogs.

Witzend Mon 29-Jul-19 14:57:36

Not sure it's just younger parents! I remember my younger sister, when staying with us, always asking her toddler what she wanted to eat, and then the dithering and faffing when she didn't know/couldn't make up her mind - or the kerfuffle if we didn't happen to have it.

I'd be (silently) screaming, 'FGS don't ASK!! Just give her something you know she likes!'

mcem Mon 29-Jul-19 15:00:59

When mine were younger and they thought they might disagree, I'd sometimes respond with
" That's a tell not an ask!"
Ungrammatical but succinct!
Of course choices were offered when appropriate.

annodomini Mon 29-Jul-19 15:17:51

Back in the 1970s when I asked DS1, when he was about 18 months, what he wanted for breakfast, he would always answer. 'A egg and a owinge,' which was his usual breakfast anyway. Not sure what he has now that he is 48 and omnivorous.

Grannyknot Mon 29-Jul-19 15:23:53

It must be a new thing. I could have written the OP excepting I haven't plucked up the courage to have the conversation! I will now. smile

gillybob Mon 29-Jul-19 15:24:57

I'm wondering if all of the "tellers" and not "askers" happen to be retired teachers? hmm

My ex neighbours were both teachers and both spoke to their young daughter as though they were still in school. I remember going to a birthday tea at theirs with my then 3 or 4 year old DGD and being quite shocked at the way they spoke to the children as though they were still in the class room.

Lessismore Mon 29-Jul-19 15:25:36

I suppose a very limited choice is OK? 2 things....the blue one or the red one?
That's sufficient.

gillybob Mon 29-Jul-19 15:29:10

Well yes Lessismore I don't give my lot a huge list to choose from, just a few ideas. My breakfast café was quite famous in the playground with DGS's last supply teacher often enquiring what was on the menu this morning?

Incidentally I find being given a choice of what to do/have etc. teaches them about making decisions.

jura2 Mon 29-Jul-19 15:31:32

granny4hugs - 100% agree!

luluaugust Mon 29-Jul-19 15:44:36

I think its fine to give some choice but not when you have to do something whether they want to or not, that is just confusing. Many parents seem to treat small children as adults until they become teenagers when they treat them like children.

mcem Mon 29-Jul-19 15:50:35

Neatly put lulu!

Elegran Mon 29-Jul-19 16:06:45

Choosing which of the available choices to have is good, but being given a choice of what in the whole universe they will eat and then being told that, No, that is not up for grabs, is just frustrating.

Of course, a really doting Mum/Gran would run to the shop and buy the favoured choice. Perhaps they would even do what the mother of a child I heard of did - asked what her darling daughter would like but didn't have her choice (fish fingers) in the house, so went out and bought some and cooked them. Child looked at them, turned up her nose, and said "I don't want that! I want beans!" So mother threw out the fish fingers and went back to the shop for beans . . .

GrannySomerset Mon 29-Jul-19 16:14:08

Very young children have limited ability to make decisions, so while either swings or roundabout (or first swings and then roundabout) or pasta or fish fingers are fine, open ended choice is beyond most pre-school children and adds an unnecessary layer of complexity to what should be a simple choice. Doubt whether asking their permission is desirable either!