Discipline Phrase: “That Is Not a Request”

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As I have been paying attention to discipline phrases that I use with my children, I have noticed that I often say, “That is not a request.” As I thought about this, I realized that “That is not a request” is very similar to, “I didn’t ask if you wanted to…” So why the two different phrases that communicate the same meaning?

I find that I use “That is not a request” when I feel my child not obeying me is basically unacceptable. I have sympathy for Brayden not wanted to do certain things. I know there are things that he, for whatever reason, hates to do. With those items, I use “I didn’t ask if you wanted to…” Remember that my tone and demeanor are very nonchalant. I am just matter of fact. These are things that he must do.

I use “That is not a request” when I feel like my child is simply being disobedient. This is not a thing that he sincerely dislikes, it is a thing that he is trying to negotiate his way out of at the moment. It is a moment when he is trying to establish himself as an equal to his parents. “That is not a request” lets him know that his behavior is unacceptable and whatever it is I have asked him to do is not up for debate. Not only that, he is close to losing some privilege.

This can happen when I have asked him to put his coat on and he isn’t ready to go yet. “That is not a request” and the coat is being put on quickly. Perhaps I have asked him to complete a chore and he starts to try to tell me he needs to do X first. “That is not a request” and the chore is being done. This isn’t to say that your child can never talk to you or let you know of hindrances to what you have requested. You should listen to these things. You should also show your child respect. For example, give him warning that something is going to happen. “In three minutes we are going to go home.” If your child is in the middle of putting together a puzzle and time allows, give him a chance to finish it. I know I hate to leave something unfinished, so I always try to let my children get to a good stopping point before they have to leave a project.

While “I didn’t ask if you wanted to…” is quite nonchalant for me, “That is not a request” is very firm. My Mommy Glare is in place and my child knows this is definitely not a time for argument. My voice is calm, but firm.

There is no saying you must use this phrase. It is simply here as an illustration for you to get ideas on what you can do or say when your child is non-compliant, because it does happen.

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Valerie, also known as The Babywise Mom, is the mother to four children. She has been blogging on Babywise and general parenting since 2007. She has a degree in technical writing and loves using those skills to help parents be the best parents they can be! Read her book, The Babywise Mom Nap Guide, to get help on sleep from birth through the preschool years. You can also find her writing at Babywise.life, Today Parenting, and Her View From Home. Read more about Valerie and her family on the About page. Follow her on FacebookPinterest, and Instagram for more tips and helps.

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  1. Angela
    May 8, 2009 / 5:54 PM

    Ooh, thanks! I will start using that phrase with my three-year old TODAY! 🙂

  2. Kerri
    May 9, 2009 / 1:39 AM

    This sounds very familar to the phrase we use “you only have the freedom to say, ‘Yes Mama.'”

  3. Plowmanators
    May 27, 2009 / 7:41 PM

    Let us know how it turns out Angela 🙂

  4. Plowmanators
    May 27, 2009 / 7:41 PM

    Good one Kerri. I like it!

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