I’m definitely guilty of it. You obviously have a reason for the things you’re telling your child to do. Your patience is at its end with their refusal to cooperate. And, now they are questioning your authority.
But, quick fixes don’t work in parenting. You’re in it for the long haul. And, as frustrating as it is at the time, questioning is normal and healthy.
Imagine if, as an adult, you weren’t allowed to question things. Your boss asks you to do something and you don’t quite understand. You ask why. He responds with “Because, I said so and I’m the boss.” Sure, he probably has a good reason to ask you to complete the task. But, you also have an equally good reason to ask why.
It may take extra time. It may be harder. But, it’s important that we do not quash the inquisitive nature of our children for the momentary satisfaction of obedience. There are many reasons why taking the time to answer the question of “why” will benefit them in the long run including, but not limited to:
- Strengthen critical thinking skills.
- Asking them questions and letting them come to their own conclusions helps a child come to the answer all on their own without you even having to explain it to them. (Ex: “Do you like it when your friend grabs toys from you?” “No. It makes me mad.” or “Why do you think we have to wear shoes outside?” “Because, it hurts my feet when I don’t.” “That is why I need you to put your shoes on.”
- Sharpens communication skills
- It is frustrating when you don’t have the words to express what you’re feeling in any given moment. Imagine being a toddler and coming from a state where your only form of communication was crying. Even though their vocabulary grows in leaps and bounds throughout their early childhood, it can be frustrating for them when they seek to express an idea or a thought. Talking through situations can help them learn how to adequately express reasoning and ideas both through example (observing how you do it) and practice (participating in the conversation).
- Deepen your relationship
- When you take the time to address a child’s concerns it lets them know that they are important to you and that they are worth the time. Sometimes, it may not be feasible to immediately stop what you are doing and explain to them they myriad of reasons that you need them to listen. But, a simple “I need you to do this now and after we ___ I will explain to you why I asked you to do it.” can go a long way.
- Ask their opinion. Let them know that if there is another way to do it you will take that into consideration. Not only does this go back to the critical thinking, but it also lets them know that it isn’t “your way or the highway.” Rather, you have a specific objective that needs to be met. Hoe you get there is flexible.
What we really want for our children is to give them the skills to be the best person that they can be. In the moment it is sometimes hard to remember that in the long run being late for work that one day because your child didn’t want to put clothes on is not what will make or break that.
But, opening up a dialogue and starting a relationship of mutual respect may just be the best thing that could happen.