Saying “Okay?” to toddlers is asking for their permission…which can be difficult to get! @Babsybbooks

Welcome to this month’s featured post from Babsy B founder, Babs Bell Hajdusiewicz! This latest topic discusses parenting “doubletalk” and how to better communicate with those indignant toddlers! As parents, we all want our children to be assertive, strong-willed, and confident…unless it’s in response to us?!

Being aware of how I communicate; the words I choose to use and the tone they are delivered in, is definitely something I have been working on with my kids. Instead of asking them for permission to do something by adding on “okay?” at the end of my instruction, I’ve learned to employ some of Babsy B’s suggestions…and have had much more success!

StopTalk-Okay (1)

StopTalk-Okay (1) (4)

StopTalk-Okay (1) (2)

StopTalk-Okay (1)-3 Copyright © 2014 Babs Bell Hajdusiewicz

I hope you’ve enjoyed this guest post from educator and Babsy B founder, Babs Bell Hajdusiewicz, Ms.Ed. You can look forward to a monthly feature post about A-Z parenting topics from Babsy B! Babs is a parent & new grandparent, a best-selling children’s author, career educator, and longtime consultant for schools, parents, and writers. And importantly, Babs is a former teacher for all ages and abilities and former school administrator!  Be sure to check out the Babsy B website to find field-tested books, prints, and other products.

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132 Responses

  1. I wasn’t fond of ending my statement with Okay? with my first born and I didn’t have any difficulty when she was a toddler. Thank you for sharing this, though. I learned a lot too and I’ll use it with my 2nd baby.

    • Babs says:

      Hi Peachy. Good for you in being present to your verbiage with your first child. Sounds that it served you well. Yes, we do learn a lot with our firsts, some of which applies in parenting our second and some of which we toss out the window. What I can still hold on to is having read everything I could find about child development and parenting and then paring it all down to take from this and that source what we found that worked for us with each of our children. Bottom line still holds: All of us parents do the very best we know how. Enjoy your wee ones, Peachy! Thank you for commenting.

  2. This was a very interesting read, I have three-nager in my home so I totally understand the communication struggle. My daughter is pretty good with her communication but she has her moments where I have to remind her to communicate with her words so we can understand one another.

    • Babs says:

      Thanks, Mimi, for underscoring the fact: Words make more sense than crying, whining, or any of the laundry list of means our children try out on us. A trick for them is to find which of their means gets them to their desired end. If crying, screaming, or whining gets them there, they will use it every time. On the flip side, if words spoken with politeness get that end result they seek, that’s what we’ll hear as their go-to. Children use that basic cause-and-effect strategy to figure us out…and they’re quick to do such exploratory work, while we stand there wondering what happened and why it keeps on happening.

  3. Clarissa says:

    Its crazy how your words really affect your children. I’m slowly learning how to change the way i speak to my kids.

  4. Kate says:

    Clear expectations is so important for kiddos! This is a great read!

    • Babs says:

      Glad it was a helpful read for you, Kate. Yes, there’s a saying that we get more of whatever it is we expect. Let’s expect the best from our treasured children! We will get it!

    • Babs says:

      Glad this was a helpful read for you, Kate! Thanks for sharing. There’s a saying that we get more of whatever it is we expect. Let’s expect the best from our treasures. We will get it!

    • Babs says:

      Obviously, that was a repeat. Not sure what happened there, but two are always better than one, or so would say most any young (or not so young) child!

  5. CourtneyLynne says:

    Wow! I never really thought about it this way. I have a 3 year old that I should probably change the way I tell her things

  6. I agree with this on so many levels, if you add okay to it, it tends to take forever!

    • Babs says:

      Yes, that one extra word tacked on there can, indeed, cause an activity to take forever, Nicole. Glad you found the post helpful and multi-layered. Happy autumn1

  7. I dont know if I do that! My daughter is a really good girl, sassy, but if you tell her its time for something, she doesn’t really question it. I tell her the days plan in advance too and throughout the day… after dinner, we can play, and then it time to take a bath…

    • Babs says:

      I’m guessing your words have been consistently clear for your daughter. Yay for a strategy that came natural to you. She’s responding to your stating that it’s time for this or that. And she’s responding to your sharing with her the day’s plan. Children like, appreciate, and feel safe and secure where there’s clarity and consistency. Thanks for sharing, Alexandria!

  8. jo says:

    I think I could learn a lot from this. Having a toddler is difficult. She’s starting to make her own decisions now which is sort of good because she’s being independent but in reality.. It’s sometimes a pain. Whew! This is hard. Okay?!! LOL!

    • Babs says:

      Okay!!! LOL You bet it is hard, Jo! Thanks for sharing that! Hard AND very rewarding. She’s beginning to exert her independence, and it sounds that you are encouraging it, though finding it tough. Similarly, it’s hard for a parent to send a child off to kindergarten and to college, though the alternative (their being dependent on us forever) would not be our choice. So they help us learn more about it all each day, how to “let go” one bit at a time (Notice my assumption about college, Purposeful statement, though I recognize that not all children wish to attain higher education degrees. I also recognize the importance of minimum high school degree and some extent of training beyond to equip for tomorrow’s world of work. See my op ed piece, “To change a child’s life, speak 5 words”; Copyright © 2005 Babs Bell Hajdusiewicz. First published in Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Friday, February 25, 2005.)

    • b says:

      Jo, here’s a link to my op ed article I’d mentioned:

  9. I am really learning how to do this with my kids, but somedays I make mistakes. Today I asked my son, “Do you want to put your jacket on?” Gosh I was destined to fail with that one. Of course he said no and had a meltdown when I made him put it on. It was around 50 degrees outside. :/

    • Babs says:

      I’m guessing that many of us can identify with your “oops” moment, Emma! Thank you for sharing. The key therein may be to look to ourselves, as you’ve done, to identify how we can learn from those challenges. You recognized how you’d set yourself up for a “No!” followed by a meltdown. He grabbed up that op and used it to his advantage, for sure; he’s shown a strength of independence he’ll build on to his (and your) advantage as he ages.

  10. This is great insight. I’m in that stage now with my kids. With them, they are all about seeing how far they can push boundaries. It’s always a challenge to see things from their point of view and get in their heads.

    • Babs says:

      Pushing boundaries is a toddler’s entry-level toward full independence. The better T’s become in winning those struggles (to get whatever was wanted), the harder they’re likely to push the next op that comes their way. Have you ever similarly pushed boundaries: Lifted a too-heavy weight; pressed that accelerator over a posted limit; put off watering the plants one more day. If no felt consequence, did you choose to stretch the limit a tad further?

      Yes, Camesha, it’s a challenge to see things from our child’s perspective. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

      It’s been my experience that it’s more challenging to view one’s own child’s perspective––that is, to be objective––when our personal love and caring are involved. Yet, we can often observe another’s parenting and readily identify what’s working…or not.

  11. It’s been many years since my daughter was this age but I know I could have used this information then for sure.

    • Babs says:

      Hi Dawn. I was out here doing this work then, most likely. Alas, we missed one another! It’s my hope you may have a friend or family member who might find the post of interest. Thanks for commenting.

  12. Jennifer says:

    I never realized how important that little word is. My youngest is 18 months old. Hopefully, I can catch myself from now on

    • Babs says:

      Hello Jennifer. Chances are you’ll self-edit more frequently, though habits are hard to alter, and we parents do our best in the moment…often with new vows to try harder to remember the next time.

      One little word and other important little words and phrases––we’ll shine our light on many of them over time here on my guest post at Our purpose? To accentuate this truth: Infants, toddlers, and preschoolers listen to every word their adults say.

      Example: Some time back, I visited with a friend as his 2-yr-old son played happily across the room. Who’d have thought this child was tuned in to us! But, suddenly, the boy ran to his dad to confirm he’d heard correctly, to affirm he could name the yet-unnamed location and character in our conversation. This child asked, “Store, Daddy? Man with coffee?” Yep. Not only had this Two been listening; this child had also put together pieces his dad had omitted. This child proceeded to supply those details.

      Reason enough for my age-old habit of spelling sensitive or other key words when talking in the presence of an infant aged four or five months and older. I’m especially careful to spell those key words if I’m speaking about something this infant or another has done or not done. For example, if I or another says,”He cries when a new person comes near him,” this infant is likely to cry. So I’ll spell the word “cries” in order to avoid setting an expectation for this infant’s behavior.

  13. This is an important topic and I bet a lot of people struggle with it at some point. Great suggestions for how to rephrase whatever it is you need your child to do, so that it gets done.

    • Babs says:

      Glad you found this topic and the suggestions helpful, Sicorra. It appears many do find it challenging at some point. Thanks for your comment.

  14. Tonya C says:

    Yes I remember when my 2 year old was always fussy or frustrated very easily, he even through tantrums. But thats why they call it terrible two’s lol it actually starts at 18 months. But us parents learn how to grasp it all and learn our child more.

    • Babs says:

      Sounds like this topic resonates with you, Tonya. Yes, the challenges can begin at 18 mos and far earlier. Children differ remarkably. As I recall (and our “Book” for each details), my children tended to sail through the 2’s and exerted their wills closer to their 3rd birthdays. You’re so right: We do learn, indeed! Thank you for your comment.

  15. Bonnie @wemake7 says:

    Thanks for sharing this post. I currently have a Toddler, thanks for bringing light to some stuff I ever wondered about.

    • Babs says:

      Hi Bonnie. Glad you’ve tuned in during your child’s toddler years. Good to learn this post has been of help to you. I’ll focus a guest post now and then here at on some other powerful words and phrases included in my “Stop Talking; Start Talking!” series. Thanks for joining us! AND check out my numerous children’s books, new board books for ages 0–3+and learning materials, Babsy B & Friends CD that’s coming this month, my blog, Ask Babs Q&A, Babsy B Tips, and YouTube channel––all at

  16. Echo says:

    This makes a lot of sense and it is something that I haven’t thought about. I think I need to make sure that I am not saying, “Okay?” to my preschooler.

    • Babs says:

      Glad to help you listen, Echo! Thanks for your comment. Stay tuned right here for more from this “Stop Talking; Start Talking!” series to be posted now and then here at And visit me on my site and blog at

  17. This reminds me of my kids when they were little. They were very easy to please but there are times that they would really speak their minds.

    • Babs says:

      Hi Chubskulit Rose. I like your “speak their minds” verbiage. Unfiltered truth as told by our children until they’re learning how to be tactful at about age 7. Thanks for your comment.

  18. Melissa says:

    These look great! I love all of the field tested books and products for purchase. I am going to look into getting my holiday shopping done!

    • Babs says:

      Hi Melissa. Yes, each of my children’s books and materials and resource books for parents and teachers comes from field-testing and is research-based. A career educator, children and their successes have been and will always be my passion. I’m always available to parents and educators from my site at Shop on, Melissa!

  19. I am guilty that I’ve said this a lot when my kids were still toddlers. This is a great reminder for parents.

    • Babs says:

      Hi Ourfamilyworld. Thanks for your comment. I try (don’t always succeed) to avoid measuring my parenting actions in units of guilt, shame, or blame. I would surely end up scoring less than I intend to be as a parent.

      We parents intend to function at our best, so we reach out to read and listen to gain ideas and tips. Then we are equipped with more tools (strategies) from which to choose the next time we meet a similar challenge. A new and different response may result in achieving our highest goals…or not. Fact remains: We’re all in this learn-as-we-go job together! Brings to mind the adage: If only babies came with instruction manuals.

  20. jataya says:

    my niece just turned one and has learned to throw tantrums. thanks for sharing these very helpful talking tips!

  21. ricci says:

    This is great info. I don’t have kids but I’m sure it will be great for future use!!

  22. I like to give my kids choices, so they don’t feel powerless. Even as toddlers, I ask if they want a bath now or after something else, so they can choose. I had parents that were very authoritarian and you did what they said when they said it. That doesn’t raise autonomous kids who can think for themselves and make good decisions. I can definitely see my efforts are paying off. My older two are a teen and tween and they make good decisions.

    • Babs says:

      My guess is you’re feeling positive connections with your teen and tween, Stephanie! It’s rewarding to view the fruits of labors as our children make those decisions. Thank you for your comment.

  23. Ra'Nesha says:

    Lol this post is funny to me thinking about my 4 year old nephew

  24. navigating the correct verbiage to say to our kids can be tough. it is always a balancing act with words

  25. Mistee Dawn says:

    Oh the joy of toddlers! My daughter has thankfully grown out of that stage but it is definitely hard to navigate those waters!

  26. I love this article. Parenting is a 24/7/356 job that you never get a break from. It’s the best job in the world, but it’s also a bit like the world’s toughest chess game.

    • Babs says:

      Thanks, Stacie, and thank you for those truths. No more TGIF when Saturday morning “Sunshine” comes out same time as every other day. Labors that spark great joy!

  27. Jeanette says:

    I believe that you, as the parent, need to stay in charge. Now a day people seem to just let kids do whatever and it doesn’t work.

    • Babs says:

      Hi Jeanette. Thanks for your comment. My own truth is that some did then, and some do now. Children want guidance and direction. They look to us for how the world is to work. When we parents waffle––we all do it at times, our children sense indecision and either jump in to try a takeover or, with visible discomfort, they waffle with us. I experienced this reality when one of my children at age 11 announced how a classmate’s parent was set to drive and drop off 2 boys and 2 girls (5th-graders!? Couples??) at the movie theatre, and I was being asked to pick up the four after the movie. “Huh?” this former 5th grade teacher asked. Later, we noted our child’s relief to hear our don’t-think-so decision on that plan.

  28. lisa says:

    I have 3 girls. The oldest was and still is my easiest child. The other 2 are a different story. I have very strong willed children so I always had to make sure they knew I made the decisions and they had to follow. It’s still that way now!

    • Babs says:

      Glad you’ve found strategies that work for you and your girls, Lisa. Strategies that allow children to be children and adults to be parents can work for all and create a peaceful, loving, stable, and secure home life for all. Thanks for sharing!

  29. This is a great reminder for all of us I think. It’s not necessary to fight with our kids if we just change the little things and the way we approach certain situations!

    • Babs says:

      Struggles with children are just that. Struggles. Yes, Stefanie, small changes can make large differences, with consistency being the key factor in the effectiveness of any strategy. Thanks for your comment!

  30. EG says:

    I totally need to talk like this more to my kids… Just tonight, I said “Girls, you ready to go to bed?” Obviously they answered “no! Not yet!” Only once I said “2 more minutes!” and then “ok, it’s time!” did that yield good results :)))
    need to practice this approach more!

    • Babs says:

      Yay for you, EG! Changing old habits takes practice, for sure. We are all working to change some thing(s) in our lives. Sounds like you’ve identified one on your list. Thanks for sharing your experience and your success, EG.

  31. Stephanie says:

    Great information! Parenting is definitely the hardest — and most wonderful and rewarding — job I’ve ever had! Learning new tips and educating myself definitely helps me though.

  32. Nikki says:

    In that stage they become in out of control situation: Sometimes I felt guilty when I using wrong words for them and high tone to be stop! And I known in that stage normally achieved of a toddler ones! That’s a great reminder for us!

    • Babs says:

      Glad the post served as a good reminder for you, Nikki. We learn as we go, don’t we! And how!!! Toddlers are great little teachers…when we listen and observe their many, many messages which are usually loud and generally quite clear! Thanks for your comment.

  33. Oh those toddlers, this is a difficult stage! I’m just glad my boys are bigger now! lol But these are great tips for parents on dealing with their little ones.

    • Babs says:

      Yes, a difficult stage though one that’s filled with wonder and joy as we observe our wee ones taking on this giant world, piece-by-piece. I’m always guided as I remember that toddlers are eager learners hoping to learn all there is to be known as they’re mastering mobility and language in tandem or mostly one-at-a-time. And I work to remember how every word is embedded with knowledge of the world around, so it’s no wonder toddlers look to us to share all that we know. They watch us to see how this big ol’ world works.

      Our role as models of words and actions becomes our important daily job…to model for our toddlers words, phrases, and sentences via our TALK. Our daily readalouds are one all-important strategy we use to present TALK as we model how we gain TALK from printed words on pages…and we model actions for toddlers via our every behavior. So…our goal is to model ENTICING words (One example–– AND behaviors we value (One example––

      Our toddlers mimic those very words we use and those actions we model. Sounds so simple, doesn’t it?! Therein lies the challenge…to find the strategies that work. I’m always available at with books and materials filled with the enticing language and strategies around those words, skills, and behaviors. Ask your questions at Ask Babs, my Q&A that’s accessible on my site at Find books and topics galore on my blog, all available at

  34. What a great reminder for parents and great points mentioned in this post… Loved it!!

  35. Parenting is not an easy task. I am sort of relieved that my children are all grown. However, when they were kids, I was living a life that was not really me. Careful with my actions, with my words for fear that they will get the wrong impression. I am over the “two-rrible” phase and the “four going on thirteen” stage. Thanks for this post. I am sure a lot of new parents will be able to learn a lot from this.

    • Babs says:

      Good to hear from you, Annemarie. It is definitely a role-model job we take on when we choose to become parents. Sounds like you’ve enjoyed the sometimes-bumpy road in getting to the current stage of your lives. Thank you for sharing!

  36. Interesting how talking to our toddler a different way can get result make sense I would not have figure this out thanks for sharing. OKAY Great Book!

  37. Bri says:

    Word choice is really important when speaking to small children. They pick up things quick and them knowing what is expected of them will help out some of the time.

    • Babs says:

      Hello Bri.Yes, our word choices are, indeed, important. We spread the buffet from which children choose the words they will speak. And yes, our expectations we share via modeling TALK and actions. Just that simple. And just that complex. Thanks for your comment.

  38. victoria says:

    What a great point. I have 2 year old boy he gets bored easily and i need more patience he always cry for what he wants.

    • Babs says:

      Sounds like he has a behavior pattern (cry), as do you (react). Is the reaction strategy working for you and for him? Write me at for some one-on-one, if you’d like. I’m intrigued by your comment “he gets bored easily” and would like to know more about that. Meanwhile, you may want to build patience (his and yours) with my picture book “The Bridge Is Up!” for 2-5 yr olds and beyond. ( This popular hardcover book is also available in most libraries, daycare centers, preschools, and primary schools around the country. I look forward to visiting with you, Victoria. Thanks for your comment.

  39. ashleigh says:

    We learned with our son who couldn’t communicate until he was 2 1/2 so we had to make sure we knew how we talked to him. Okay is a work that we try not to use.

    • Babs says:

      Hello Ashleigh. Sounds like your toddler helped you learn to communicate. And taught you to listen to yourselves. I’m curious if he was patient with you as you learned. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  40. Amanda says:

    This sounds like a really good book. I caught myself saying “okay?” too much to my kids so I am constantly using “do you understand/does that make sense” instead.

    • Babs says:

      Ah, Amanda, glad you listened to your words used. I like your “found” strategies and your sharing with us that you’re finding them successful. Your line of questioning invites children to respond by saying what and how they’ve heard what you’ve said. Thanks for sharing!

  41. Melinda Dunne says:

    What a great book! I am going to have to look at getting this for one of my friends who has a toddler.

    • Babs says:

      Thanks, Melinda. Not sure which of my many books you’re referencing, but you can check out all my titles at, where you can access my blog and many and various kinds of tips on all sorts of topics around children and their learning successes. Let me know how we can assist you.

  42. mya.k says:

    My sister is 3 and she can whisper one second and then be yelling the next.

    • Babs says:

      Hi Mya.K. So you have a sister who’s deep into being an exploring Toddler 3! Stay tuned and check out the many resources I offer as noted in my reply to the comment just below yours here. Enjoy that T3 and all her exploding language meant to question every piece of knowledge she comes across. Help to keep those Why’s alive in her, Big Sis! That’s how she learns all there is to know. Lots more on that very topic (Handling the Why’s) already available to you and in the months to come right here at and on my site at Question: Does that T3 of yours have my newest book for T3’s titled “I’m 3!” If not, add that book and more from my new Babsy B Board Books Series I, along with my all-new Babsy B & Friends CD that’ll hit the market shortly here in November. Check out my Readalouds and Singalongs accessible from my site at And if you’re planning holiday giving to that little language lover, “Don’t Go Out in Your Underwear!” and “Sputter, Sputter, Sput!” and “The Bridge Is Up!” are some of my must-haves for 3’s and up. See those books and many, many more from my decades of writing for children, all available at Thanks for your comment…and for noticing what an enthusiastic explorer you have there! Enjoy!

  43. Three year olds are totally nuts… I will never understand what goes on in their heads! This is such a relevant post for me!

    • Babs says:

      Ah, glad it’s relevant for you, Chelley. Toddler 3’s…a great age stage to utilize the power of book talk to make your points about this or that. Choose books that help you do that. And stay tuned here for more on that topic and more that will help you better understand what’s going on in the head of T3’s who are wondering how the world works and WHY! Thank you for your comment. Hope you’ve checked out my books, blog, Ask Babs Q&A column, and Babsy B Tips at, as well as my several other guest posts here at

  44. Jeni Hawkins says:

    What a great topic! This is an awesome reminder for parents….because it’s something important that we really don’t consider. Thank you!

  45. I still find myself doing that, it a hard habit to break but important!

    • Babs says:

      Yes, old habits mentioned a couple comments below here. Thanks for affirming how hard it is to change our own behaviors, Cindy. I noticed with my first-born how blissful my life was UNTIL that first hint of one single unacceptable/anti-social behavior from this “perfect child.” I didn’t sleep at all that night! And soon, I learned that letting an undesirable behavior go with the wish that it was an anomaly, well, ha! And with time, how much easier it was for my spouse and me to respond quickly respond to any undesirable behavior before our toddler began to think this or that must be acceptable. Those things can pile up and then it’s harder to make changes. Difficult lesson but one we mastered after careful self-checking and cross-checking that we were both being consistent. This parenting role of ours is filled with so much joy…and with a difficult choice now and then…to choose what is expedient (and brings the least amount of loud, resistant, and most unhappy crying/screaming) or what will be best for all over the long haul.

  46. My life feels like it revolves around toddlers.
    So much so I have found that it has changed the way I communicate with adults! LOL!! We give choices, but I try to steer clear of the word ok especially if it’s not a choice. 🙂

    • Babs says:

      Hi Heather. Good for you in choosing to “give choices” and “steer clear of the word “Okay?” when there’s no toddler’s choice “on the table,” but rather it’s a must-do. And your comment about the tendency for communication carry-over…oh, yes! One evening during my years of parenting two toddlers, I was chauffeuring a carload of friends for an adults-only evening. Lots of friends chatting in my car until I noticed a pasture and quickly announced, “Look! Cows!” All that chatter ‘tween fellow moms of toddlers turned to empathic giggling!

  47. Elizabeth O. says:

    Wow that makes so much sense. As a mom I’ve used this term a lot in the past. Thanks for sharing this!

  48. andi says:

    babies are so sensitive and respond so quickly to whatever language we use

  49. Dogvills says:

    I have to admit that I was guilty of this. By asking permission, you give them the chance to be in control.

    • Babs says:

      Yes, Dogvills, you are right about “asking permission”…though I’d opt to address the earlier use of the “guilty” word. It’s one I hear often as we parents go through our days with children. I prefer to think of us parents (and grandparents!) as being in on-the-job-training where there’s no room for guilt nor shaming ourselves.

      (A Side Note: I’ve said so often that in all the years of my working with tens of thousands of children and parents, I’ve never met a parent who was not doing the best they know how.)

      We parents are learning from each and every opportunity that comes our way to respond to our children. If a strategy we try out works nicely for us, we repeat that strategy…consistently…so that our child knows to expect that same response from us each and every time. Are we totally consistent? No way! We all know how difficult it is to change up any habitual behavior. If a strategy doesn’t work, instead of our trying it repeatedly expecting different results, we try a different strategy.

      As we know, there are many times we want and need to allow our toddlers (and older children) to be in control. One very effective strategy for giving toddlers, especially, (though for some of our older ones, too) that chance to be in control is to offer 2 choices, EITHER of which needs to be fine with us. The time for us parents to be in control is those times when the choice matters to us a lot…and what we need done is a must-do!

      Hey, and thanks so much for your comment that provided me the op to toss in that “guilty” bit I’ve been itching to address. LOL

  50. brianna says:

    Yup. We learned this with our first the hard way. 🙂 we thought we were good when our second came along…but he has exposed other areas of weakness in our parenting. Lol.

    • Babs says:

      LOL is right, Brianna! Nothing like parenting to teach us parents all that we didn’t know we didn’t know. Like you, with my second child, I learned still more of what I didn’t know about parenting. Thank you for your comment which reminds me of one of my parenting poems first published in the book “The Funny Side of Parenthood” by Bruce Lansky (Meadowbrook Press, 1994).

      The Difference is…

      First-time parents never miss
      a single tiny feat.
      They film it,
      note it in The Book,
      and shout it on the street:
      “She smiled today!
      Had four BM’s!
      She spit up on the cat!
      She got a tooth!
      She slept all night–can you imagine that!”

      But second-timers note the facts
      and take each one in stride:
      “He’s learned to take his diaper off–
      You’d better step aside.”

      Copyright © 1992-2015 Babs Bell Hajdusiewicz

  51. Shell says:

    I never even though of it like that. I have to watch how I give instruction and pay attention to how I end the conversation. Thanks for the important reminder.

  52. Michelle T says:

    I am a daycare provider in my home. So I have a pretty good handle on toddlers. I have been doing it for 6 years now and have my own 5 kids. Saying okay at the end of a request for them to do something for you is a good tip but it doesn’t always work. Toddlers can be pretty stubborn at times. I always ask them would you like to be a good helper today, then I ask them to do something for me and that always works most of the time.

    • Babs says:

      Hello Michelle. First off, thank you for doing what you do for children of others in a formal setting as well as for 5 of your own. Yes, the “Okay?” tip is but one of many strategies we use…or don’t…as we model words and actions for children. And yes, toddlers can act and use words in a mighty independent way as they learn about and test limits. Thanks for sharing a helpful strategy you’ve found works “most of the time.” It will be of help to others! Thank you.

  53. Claire says:

    I think a lot of parents are guilty of this, but we need to take care with what we say to toddlers.

    • Babs says:

      Hi Claire. Yes, taking care in how we model our words and actions is important work for all of us parents. And that care with words and actions continues well into their adulthoods. Thanks for your comment.

  54. I was and am guilty of this. I sometimes forget I’m the parent and what I say goes.

    • Babs says:

      Yes, Rebecca, it’s easy to move into the “I-wanna-be-your-friend” role with our children of all ages, beginning with our first “role” challenges that come during the toddlerhood stage. After all, what parent doesn’t want their children to be happy all the time and have all their wishes come true.?! Thank you for sharing your experience with what I call one of many “times of reckoning” we parents encounter. Thank you for sharing your “I’m the parent…” phrase.

  55. Rosey says:

    I know someone who tells their toddlers they can have whatever they want, if they just ask nicely. It does make for some interesting scenarios. 😉

    • Babs says:

      Hello Rosey. Sometimes modeling another way to handle a situation can be helpful…or not. I like how you describe the parent’s behavior with toddlers without judgment. Which reminds me of one of my tips for teachers, parents, and non-parents throughout my 51 years as an educator and consultant for children, parents, and teachers is to share my everyday reality, which is this: I’ve NEVER met a single parent who wishes for challenges of any kind in parenting their children. Thank you for sharing what sounds like your understanding positivity in observing another’s response to toddlers’ wishes.

  56. Nicky says:

    I’ve been guilt of this with my older children. With my youngest, I quickly learned to be direct and straight forward. It’s funny have a slight thing like this makes a big difference.

    • Babs says:

      Hi Nicky. Sounds like you’re feeling relieved to see the different behavior resulting from your directness with this youngest child. Happy for you! Thanks for sharing!

  57. I think I’m still guilty of this! Asking “okay” isn’t good, whether your kids or toddlers or grown!

    • Babs says:

      Hi Lois Alter Mark! Yes, asking a child’s permission makes sense only when we don’t care about the answer. If we already know there’s one response we must have, we are asking for defiance when we ask their permission. Thanks for your comment.

    • Babs says:

      Hi Lois! Yes, asking a child’s permission makes sense only when we don’t care about the answer. If we already know there’s one response we must have, we are asking for defiance when we ask their permission. Thanks for your comment.

  58. Liz Mays says:

    These are some great points. It’s easy to let that “okay” slip and it makes a big difference in how they interpret what you say.

    • Babs says:

      Yes, Liz, it is easy and it does make a big difference in their understanding. This very afternoon, I said the 4-letter word to my 2 yr old grand and at the end of my sentence, no less. Heard myself say the word and quickly rewound my sentence in my head, asking myself if I had asked her permission. No, I hadn’t. It would have been perfectly find in the context of what I’d said IF she had said NO. And therein lies the difference: She had no inclination to reply, knowing by my tone of voice that I’d simply told her something funny and had then explained my meaning to her, so nothing was “at stake,” so to speak. She had no challenge on the table to rise up and declare her independence. Interesting, that difference. Thanks for reading, Liz, and commenting.

  59. Tamara says:

    I have a three-year-old. This is still all very valid to me! I’m totally guilty of using the wrong language or the wrong tone. My husband is always reminding me!

    • Babs says:

      Hi Tamara. Good to have your checks-and-balances going on there in your home. Glad this topic is meaningful for you now with your 3. Thanks for caring to share…and for caring to stop to think about how you want to model language and actions for your little one. Your child and you will reap benefits from the special care given now in the little one’s formative years. You’re making those important connections now that last lifetimes. Thanks for sharing!

  60. Tina says:

    I think above anything else it is important to give your child a heads up on what is going to be expected from them. I also agree that it is a matter of tone and word choices. Your child may be little but they understand so much!

    • Liz Mays says:

      This is so true. Communication is key even if they don’t have perfect language skills.

    • Babs says:

      They sure do understand, Tina. And the tone. My 6 mos. GrandGem stops all to look at me when he hears me say a familiar word; otherwise, he’s likely to continue listening while doing what he’s doing. But a familiar word gets his full attention to the facial features. He’s checking again to see if, in fact, that’s the same look of the features as when he’s heard the word/words before. He’s learning every facet of those particular words to tuck into his “I’ve got these!” pile while he goes on about his busy business of the day. Such hard workers, infants are! Thanks for your comment.

  61. It is such a hard age, I have a 2 year old and she gets easily frustrated. I think we need to have patience as they try to express themselves.

    • Babs says:

      Yes, Mama to 5 Blessings. Imagine if we could not express ourselves. We can imagine it if we think of a time when we were spontaneously invited to speak in a public setting. Everyone is listening, and we feel tongue-tied! There’s the 2 year old who’s just beginning to master words and phrases. It isn’t easy for them to get the words in the correct order to say what they want to express. The very reason they like words and phrases repeated again and again…they want to own those words and phrases. And a frequent reason some children stall speaking much…until they feel they can do it and do it to their own satisfaction. Again, we can imagine ourselves hearing a complex word for the first time. We ask to hear it again…we then run it up, down, and all around in our minds. We’re likely to come back to ask its meaning. Well, we now have Google for quick answers. Two’s do not! But, toss us one new word, and we behave like that word-hungry 2 yr old! Thanks for sharing. Yes, patience is a key to helping the 2 yr old progress with language acquisition. It can also be a factor in stuttering…when a young child senses the world cannot offer enough time to get the thoughts into words…. Patience…reminds me of my book, The Bridge Is Up!, a picture book for 2 to 5 yr olds…it’s all about patience. Find that book here:

  62. Pam says:

    I never thought of saying okay like that as giving them wiggle room! But toddlers will take any wiggle room you give them!

    • Babs says:

      Yes, they sure will…and do. Their brains are never at rest as they’re learning all that language…to comprehend it first and then, when they are ready, to speak it. And in the process, they are doing all that power struggle to become independent of us, one skill/minute at-a-time. What labors they must do…and they so small in comp to our tall bodies. No wonder they take all that wiggle room! Thanks, Pam, for reading and sharing your thought..

  63. Robin Rue (@massholemommy) says:

    I am totally guilty of that. I think sometimes it’s hard for us adults to grasp what exactly is going on inside a toddler’s head 🙂

    • Babs says:

      Yes, Robin, I agree it’s not at all easy. I have this hotline to infant and toddler brains! LOL Just a lot of years of observations of thousands of little ones with all their responses to various stimuli. In contrast, we parents get our one shot at each new age and stage…while, of course, we’re putting food on the table, clothes on their bodies, roof over their heads, educating them, AND getting them into that tub and reading aloud every day and the list goes on and on and on and on. That’s why it’s not easy. Having been there and done that, is why I love getting to do what I get to do…and aim to try my best to provide materials and tips to help parents be their child’s best teacher. Thanks for reading and sharing a truth!

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