What is your Request?

Contributed by Melanie Miller, M.Ed.

Do you ever hear this at your house? “I’m hungry, there’s nothing to eat.” “I don’t want to clean my room right now, it’s no fun?” “How come I have to do chores and my friends are all out playing?” Or, maybe something like, “ I don’t like mayo on my sandwich” or, “Peas again? I don’t like eating peas.” Often we hear what our children don’t want. We then coax, remind, tell them to be grateful for what they have, do some more coaxing and reminding and never get to hear what it is they want or need.

When I first started teaching parenting classes, I had a couple who came up with the idea of asking their daughters, “What is your request?” They were parents of preschoolers and I’m sure their days were filled with hearing what their children didn’t want to do, or didn’t want to eat. It was such a simple solution and once again, I, as the parent educator, got to learn something from the parents in my class. I brought this new parenting tool home with me and found that it was a wonderful way to communicate with my two children.

Asking, “What’s your request?” teaches our children to ask for what they need.
It gives them a voice and gives them practice speaking up for themselves.
What a great gift to give our children.

And, because it is only a “request”, we have the freedom to say, “That’s not going to work this time” or maybe, “I’m not sure about that request, let me think about it” or we might even say, “No”.

Asking my children, “What’s your request?” also gives me practice in asking for what I want. No longer do I have to hint at what I need, “beat around the bush”, or wish they could read my mind. I simply get to ask for what I want or need, and my children get to decide if my request is one that they can live with. “What’s your request?” What a great way to ask for what we need!

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