Why is it that when you are crossing a busy intersection with your child, your roles are sharply defined and there is no room for negotiation?—Because your tone makes it that way. Your child is going to hold your hand and walk in a straight line, and that’s that. Your child picks up on your tone and recognizes a barrier that cannot be penetrated.
There are many times when you want to establish a non-negotiable barrier, but can’t seem to produce it (without getting angry, which isn’t a good solution). A good strategy to establish a non-negotiable barrier through the use of tone is to drop the word ‘okay’ from the end of your sentences. Instead of saying, ‘Time to clean up, okay.’—Just say, ‘Time to clean up.’ Instead of saying, ‘Put your hat and boots on, okay.’—Just say, ‘Put your hat and boots on.’ Instead of saying, ‘Wait by the door, okay.’ —Just say, ‘Wait by the door.’ Not everything is negotiable, and by using the word ‘okay’ you signal ambiguity and invite needless, stressful quibbling.
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