You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.


Welcome to

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

Kid Whisperer: Stop telling your kids what to do

Dear Kid Whisperer,

I have a three year old boy and a six year old girl. I have always prided myself at being good at multi-tasking and being able to help both of my kids with their daily tasks without getting frazzled. The problem is that I have noticed that my children have begun to need me to do things that I see other children of their respective ages being able to do. I don’t want this to continue. Also, I am tired and I am starting to get overwhelmed. What do I do?

— Kim

Dear Kim,

You seem to be the rare person who can always get your kids out the door, call the drugstore, get their clothes on them, remember where you put your keys, pack their lunches and get them to daycare on time.

Your children have the misfortune of having an extremely smart, capable person as a parent.

Let me explain. The more you do for your kids, the less they will be able to do for themselves. Kids get good at things the same way anyone gets good at anything: through practice and struggle. Remember when kids were allowed to struggle?

Your kids aren’t good at being people because they’re not getting any practice at it.

Kid Whisperer Essential Understanding: Kids should be given help only when that kid is incapable of doing a task, or when failure to help is likely to cause serious injury to the child.

Translation: If a kid is in the middle of a busy street, you tackle the kid and get them out of the street. If a baby needs her diaper changed, you change the diaper. If a healthy 3 year old can’t pull up his pants even though he pulled them up yesterday, he is given the opportunity to whine and cry until he pulls up his pants.

My daughter, on the other hand, is lucky enough to have a moron for a father. I find it hard enough to get myself out the door in the morning, let alone do anything for my daughter outside of what I absolutely have to do. Not only that, I’m not even smart enough to tell her what she should do. Again, this is fortunate because telling a kid what to do is the wrong move 99 percent of the time. Instead, I use the same seven words every time I want my kid (or my students) to do anything. I don’t have the time, energy or brain power to do anything more, and anything more would be hurtful, so I don’t do it.

Here’s the Love and Logic® response that will allow your child’s autonomy to grow at an optimal rate and will allow your stress level to be at an absolute minimum. In addition, I have added a nice little consequence that will super-charge their willingness to take care of themselves in the future. This is how I would handle your situation. We join our hero (me) as he sees your two kids staring off into space instead of putting their shoes on in preparation to go to the park.

Kid Whisperer: Oh, man. What should you do now?

Kid No. 1: Put on our shoes?

Kid Whisperer: Sounds good. My car will leave for the park as soon as it has two kids in it with shoes on their feet. This offer expires in three minutes. I love you!

Kid Whisperer then walks away and prays that Kid No. 1 and Kid No. 2 get in the car in three minutes and two seconds, so that these kids can quickly learn how strict, loving and calm he is. We rejoin our hero (again, me; I am always the hero) as he is washing the dishes from the dinner Kid No. 1 and Kid No. 2 missed while staring at the wall. Kid No. 1 and Kid No. 2 are in the car, in the garage, right next to the kitchen.

Kid No. 2: We’re ready!!!!

Kid Whisperer: (not looking up from the dishes) Oh, man. This is sad. When did the offer expire?

Kid No. 1: In three minutes?

Kid Whisperer: Oh, man. Yeah. It’s been three minutes and two seconds. Ack. You can have another shot at it some other time.

Kid Whisperer then prays that they have a temper tantrum so that he knows that their learned helplessness is being unlearned.

Kim, feel free to experiment with the magic words “Oh, man. What should you do now?” Instead of telling your kids what to do!

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in

When sending flowers just won’t do

Flowers. Don’t send them. My former colleague, Tim, lost his beloved Uncle Bill this week. People sent flowers. That’s what they do at times like these. Tim says don’t do it. Not because he didn’t adore his uncle. Oh, how he adored him. Still does. “He’s the man who influenced me to become a journalist,” he...
WASSO Kitchens Tour is Saturday
WASSO Kitchens Tour is Saturday

Some of Springfield’s hottest kitchens will welcome fans in this weekend. The 11th annual Women’s Association of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra (WASSO) Kitchens Tour will highlight five different spaces, 1-4 p.m. Saturday, April 29. The tour is a fundraiser with proceeds benefitting the Springfield Symphony Orchestra. “We&rsquo...
Katharine the great white shark lurking in waters off central Florida coast
Katharine the great white shark lurking in waters off central Florida coast

  Katharine, the great white shark, has surfaced again in Florida waters, this time pinging off the coast just north of Port St. Lucie. Katharine, who has been swimming up the east coast of Florida since January, started her northward trek parallel to Lake Worth on January 13. In the months that have followed, she has moved up the coast as far...
Woman claims Fitbit burned her arm after it ‘exploded’
Woman claims Fitbit burned her arm after it ‘exploded’

A Wisconsin woman said she suffered second-degree burns on her arm after her Fitbit tracker “exploded” while she read a book, ABC News reported. >> Read more trending news  Dina Mitchell said she had owned her Fitbit Flex 2 for about two weeks when the fitness tracking device allegedly caught fire on her arm Tuesday night...
What’s under your feet at the playground?
What’s under your feet at the playground?

The playground: a universal source of fun for children. It’s also a place to burn calories, make new friends and develop skills like how to judge risks and make decisions. A good playground challenges and engages children but is also designed to keep them safe. One of the best ways to lower the chances of serious injuries is to make sure there...
More Stories