A frustrated little girl


Stop Asking Your Kids Dumb Things

Apr 9, 2019

I’ve done it. I know you’ve done it. I hear it all time. We have to stop the inanity!

Recently, on a field trip to the library, a dad asked his son, “Are you excited to sit on the carpet?” The kid said nothing, but I imagined him looking up and saying, “No! Are you?” The dad would’ve learned a great lesson that day: his kid is not an idiot.

I’ve earned my 10,000 hours of practice in talking to children (in fact, I’m probably at 20,000), so let me insist — we can all do better. 

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First off, parents, let's not talk for the sake of talking. The science on speaking to babies and toddlers is pretty solid — it’s amazing for their brains, baby talk included. But once they turn three or four, you can be a bit more selective. Nothing interesting to say? Don’t say anything at all.

A kid screams in delight while going down the slide and someone has to mention loudly that slides work because of gravity. Honestly, who cares?

That means I try not to ask a question if I couldn’t care less about the answer. I’ve totally caught myself asking something and then walking away because I wasn’t invested, I was just filling a space. Silence would’ve been kinder.

Also, why all the teaching? I’ve noticed this a lot in the past eight years. Every single moment has to be teachable with a capital T. A kid screams in delight while going down the slide and someone has to mention loudly that slides work because of gravity. Honestly, who cares? Did you see the kids surrounding the dead rat in the corner of the park? That’s what they want more of — DEAD RATS!

Dead rats tie into my next point, which is not every conversation with our kids has to have an overarching moral theme. Here’s some topics kids love: poop (in your pants? Even better!), Halloween hijinks and pranks you pulled as a kid. My husband often changes the instigator in his childhood stories to his best friend (they don’t need to know EVERYTHING). For example, it was definitely Robert who peed into the Super Soaker. 

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Stop worrying about whether or not these delicious stories will turn your brethren into delinquents and start worrying about whether your kid is interesting. Every good dinner guest has at least a tiny bit of delinquent in them.

I also find I enjoy my kids' company so much more if I talk to them about what I'm interested in, not just what I think they should learn. And if I'm engaged, they’re happy to come along for the ride! But what if the books you read, movies you watch, politics you follow aren’t age-appropriate, you say? I challenge you to a duel. There’s always an angle.

One morning, I was so jacked up about an episode of Game of Thrones I’d seen the night before that I had to recreate the frozen dragon resurrection for them at breakfast. And I didn’t have to mention incest or the overuse of rape as a plot point! They loved it! That night when we read Dragon Masters (fantasy for kids), we had more in common than we did the night before.

Good conversation begins at home so brush up on your content, loosen up your morals and have a little fun.

Article Author Yasmine Abbasakoor
Yasmine Abbasakoor

Read more from Yasmine here.

Yasmine Abbasakoor was a television development executive before leaving to pursue her dream job of being a stay-at-home mum. After five years of living it up in the sandbox and laundry room, she’s ready to share her myriad of musings with the world once again. Connect with Yasmine in her kitchen (she’s the one standing behind the island) or on Linkedin.

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