Age Appropriate Questions

28th March 2016

Do you want a smack?

Didn’t I say stop doing that?

Will you be quiet?

What’s that smell?

 

They’re rhetorical questions. We don’t really want the answer, yet we’re compelled to ask. As adults we desire explanations and reasons, but our children are simply impulsive. They’re still developing in their ability to make safe judgements and responsible decisions.

 

Sometimes we lose sight of that and ask our kids some really dangerous questions. I’ve heard of parents asking their eight year old to choose her preferred school. A little person of that age has difficulty selecting an ice-cream flavour, let alone an educational institution!

 

A question like that isn’t age-appropriate and that’s where the trouble starts. Choices that are open-ended (what do you want to wear?), involve negotiating (what time should I pick you up?) or which affect future well-being (do you want to try a different school?) are likely to dis-empower parents, whilst giving kids an almost overwhelming sense of freedom.

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This pic of my little Olivia – taken around 7 years ago – reminds me of Angelica off that old cartoon Rug Rats. Angelica was the kind of kid who was bossy and prone to tantrums. She was probably given too many choices and too much power in the parent-child relationship.

Over time, the child offered too many of these choices ends up believing they’re in charge. Usually confident, manipulative, determined and prone to tantrums, these children can end up controlling and destroying their parent’s relationship and the family structure. That’s because they’re overwhelmed; they’ve been given adult choices, but they don’t yet have the brain power or experience to handle them.

 

Children certainly need to be offered choices, age-appropriate choices they can manage safely without pressure or future harm. Age-appropriate choices can empower parents and provide boundaries for the child. Consider this; Do you want to wear your blue PJ’s or your red ones? The choice – red or blue. The fact – you’re going to wear your pyjamas. Age-appropriate questions aren’t difficult, they just require a moment’s thought.

 

Remember – you’re the adult. You’re in charge. Aren’t you? Sorry – stupid question.

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