“Oh Look, Honey, See The Rose? What Color is the Rose? Rose Starts with R. Roses are Flowers, Just Like Daisies…” AGGHHHHHH!

Welcome to Free-Range Kids. Can you say “Free-Range Kids”? Free starts with F, and syanitaatf
F is a letter!  Like this “letter” I got, below…except “letter” is not the same as “letter,” and…oh gosh! If they ask you that question on your SATs, just choose, “C,” because you don’t want to leave a question blank! This came as a comment from Stacey Gordon on the post, “To Get Kids Cooking, Stop Talking.”

Come on… You know good and well that children cannot exist outside the constant stream I call the CONE OF VERBIAGE that keeps them SAFE, or just from walking into walls !

Ok honey walk this way, open the door,goodjob,nowkeepgoing,that’s right honeyoknowgooverhere,keep going thank you honey good job.

Yay!  We made it down the hall! Good job.

I cannot stand to be around people with little kids because the constant barrage of verbiage in their presence never stops.  The kid never gets a chance to form their own thoughts.  Everything is in this insipid, sing song, nyah nyah  voice and no wonder parents are exhausted.  I listened to it once for 10 minutes on a plane while we were waiting to take off.  I almost lost my mind…

Oh look at that honey, see the man with the luggage? See them throwing it on the ground? I wonder why he does that? DO you know? Where is our luggage? Can you say luggage? That’s right, very good.  What color is our luggage?  I wonder where it went?  Do you think it is on the plane with us?

The kid was well behaved and quiet but the parent made me need noise cancelling head phones.

So true! I was behind one on the plane once, too.

And yet…I fear I raised my kids in something of a Cone of Verbiage myself. (Not to be confused with the Cone of Silence, from the show Get Smart. Just reading the description made me laugh out loud.) – L


I read I have to say 3 million words to you by Friday!


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64 Responses to “Oh Look, Honey, See The Rose? What Color is the Rose? Rose Starts with R. Roses are Flowers, Just Like Daisies…” AGGHHHHHH!

  1. BL March 1, 2017 at 8:18 am #

    “You know good and well that children cannot exist outside the constant stream I call the CONE OF VERBIAGE that keeps them SAFE, or just from walking into walls !”

    Surely the children are tuning this stuff out. They have to be. After all, very very few children murder their parents.

  2. Emily March 1, 2017 at 8:49 am #

    I don’t have kids, but I’ve worked with kids a fair bit over the years, and I’m one of those rare adults who…….doesn’t do that. I mean, obviously, there are certain things I’ll talk about with other adults, but not with kids, but I don’t do that sing-songy “kid voice” and “cone of verbiage” thing, of narrating everything that’s going on. Some kids have found that a bit strange, but others have liked it, and actually preferred me to their regular adults.

  3. K March 1, 2017 at 8:58 am #

    What does this have to do with being Free Range?

    If you ever hear me doing the, “Open the door now, good job, okay now we’re walking, keep walking, walk this way . . . ” rest assured that I am not trying to keep my toddler safe from walking into walls. I am trying to keep him walking at all, because when left to his own devices he will move so slowly he is going backwards while I go (not so slowly) out of my ever-loving mind. (This of course, only when I have somewhere to be. Should I be attempting a leisurely stroll, or laden with bags so I can’t move quickly, he will be running full-speed ahead.)

    I much preferred when the message of this site was “There is a wide variety of acceptable parenting, and just because someone does something differently than I would doesn’t mean it’s wrong” as opposed to the message that posts like this send, which is more, “Even the most inane divergences from my preferred parenting methods deserve public scorn.”

  4. Jess March 1, 2017 at 9:22 am #

    I feel like it goes along with the judginess. We’re told from the time we’re pregnant that we need to say so many million words to our kids or else they’ll suffer from speech delays and need intervention. I remember this sent me into panic mode when at our oldest child’s (now 7) 1-year appt, the doctor recommended speech therapy. I was wondering if I wasn’t talking to him enough, if I could do more, if he would always be behind his peers. And then I realized that he was communicating, just mostly through sign language. After I calmed down, I realized how ridiculous it was to worry when he was just a year old. My second child also talked later, and he did have a speech impediment, but we didn’t worry until he was four and still not communicating well. And the speech therapist said his pronunciation issues would clear up without intervention, but there were things we could do to help it go faster.

    All this to say, talk to your kids however much you want and they want, but silence is ok too.

  5. Vicki Bradley March 1, 2017 at 9:36 am #

    K – I think you’re missing the point of this post – the point is that there are many insidious ways in which overparenting rears its ugly head, and the “cone of verbiage” is one of them. This post is trying to raise awareness about annoying parenting behaviours, such as this one, that are accepted as the norm, but shouldn’t be. I agree with BL that kids must tune out the constant barrage of instructions, suggestions, etc. they get from their parents, otherwise they’d lose their minds. I have two teenagers who I have always talked to in a normal, adult voice, not baby talk (I can’t stand when adults use that sing-songy, “aren’t you precious” voice – the worst is when two adults talk to each other in that manner – nauseating!). Having said that, I do sometimes use a higher pitched tone with my cats, but I don’t think they mind 🙂

  6. Buffy March 1, 2017 at 10:13 am #

    The other Free Range connection is allowing your kids to just be; to think, to learn, to play, to grow without constant narration. They’ll learn what luggage is. Really.

  7. Backroads March 1, 2017 at 10:24 am #

    In all fairness, talking to your babies and toddlers is good, but the cone of verbiage is hardly how language develops.

  8. bob magee March 1, 2017 at 10:37 am #

    Talk TO the child.

    That is a big difference from talking AT the child.

  9. AmyP March 1, 2017 at 10:43 am #

    I’m in agreement with Jess. We are told the more we speak to our kids the better their language skills. To an extent, yes. I’m not a very talkative person, so I speak when I have something to say. I never have spoken to the kids just for the heck of it. We enjoy our quiet moments. That being said, my sister and sister in law put so much effort into their kids language from the moment they were born from speaking constantly, vocabulary lessons, educational tv shows and games, etc whereas I just kind of assumed my kids would learn English from going through the normal course of the day and then grammar lessons at school age. And yes, I had a mini freak out when I realized how much more “advanced” my nieces and nephews were at the same ages. They knew more words and had better pronounciation. But years later, my ten year old, who as a toddler spoke very little and struggled with pronounciation, is on par with most of his age group. There’s nothing wrong I guess with helping kids develop language skills, but now I look at it the same as reading. It’s great if you can do it at an early age, but for the most part people catch up through the normal course of childhood. So, I would rather not put so much focus on it, let my kids be kids through play, not alter my own personality, and not worry until there’s actually something to worry about. That said, people parent differently and I don’t see parents doing this as something I need to worry about. There are a lot more harmful ways to parent. Whether you do or don’t speak to them like this, they’ll mostly turn out just fine.

  10. Jessica March 1, 2017 at 10:49 am #

    This is why I sometimes want to check out of parenting altogether. If I am walking, dragging my toddler in silence, or– heaven FORBID– listening to music on my earbuds, a helpful stranger will tell me that I need to be talking constantly to him, because that will boost his IQ. Now here, I see that if I AM talking to him, people will get online to bitch about how insipid and brain-killing all that chatter is.

    I quit.

  11. Jessica March 1, 2017 at 10:53 am #

    And K–
    YES 100%. When I say in a sing-song voice: “Ah look up here! A flower! Let’s walk toward that! It’s big and yellow. What do you see over ther? A doggie?” it is to keep my toddler walking forward. Sometimes he can wander slowly; sometimes we have an errand to do.

    Alternatively, I could put him in a stroller when we walk to the grocery store. But oh, no, wait– that makes me the recipient of passive-aggressive comments about “Isn’t he a little old to be in a stroller?”

  12. James March 1, 2017 at 11:05 am #

    A lot of this is sample bias. The writer listened to it for ten minutes. Annoying, perhaps, but are those ten minutes representative? Hardly.

    I do the “cone of verbage” thing at times. I do this, for example, when the kid is genuinely excited about something. My oldest loves trains and my youngest loves frogs. If we see one, we’ll talk about it. I’ll ask them to point out things, they’ll ask me questions–we’ll have a conversation. They’re young, so they can’t hold their end very well, but still: If you wouldn’t be annoyed by me having a conversation with another adult in this situation, I see no reason to be annoyed about me having a conversation with my child. If you only saw me during those 20 minutes you’d think I never shut up around my kid. But that’s hardly representative. Quite often even if my children and I are in the same room we don’t talk to each other–they play together, while I read or work on something. That’s a FAR more representative situation.

    Plus, remember that young children need practice. They don’t know their colors, numbers, letters, etc yet, and some of us like taking opportunities to practice as they present themselves. We’re talking constantly because we’re TEACHING. That’s exactly what the quote looks like–poor pedagogy, perhaps, but teaching none the less.

    I can easily see a parent waiting in line at an airport talking to their child for ten minutes straight. Airports are great sources of new things to point out to kids, and new opportunities to hone skills such as identifying shapes, colors, letters, and the like. Asking kids “What do you think will happen?” and “What would you do?” is a start to teaching them to plan ahead and learn from observation. And it keeps the kid entertained during what is, to them, pure torture: standing in place for no reason they can see. But again–this is almost certainly not the norm. This is an unusual situation that requires an unusual response. If you saw them at home, I doubt you’d see the same behavior.

    Using a small and non-representative subset of a set to evaluate the set is a fallacy. Just because you see someone doing something in a particular setting you know to be abnormal, doesn’t mean that this is their normal behavior. Harshly judging parents for how they handle ten potentially stressful minutes says far, FAR more about you than it does about the parents.

  13. K March 1, 2017 at 11:16 am #

    James has an excellent point about context. What on earth are the parent and child supposed to be doing while waiting for a plane to take off? My experience of flying with toddlers has been that you pack an enormous bag of snacks and toys to keep them occupied and spare the eardrums and seatbacks of your neighbors, and each of those items occupies them for approximately 17 seconds. (Sure, at home, I can let my kid be bored, but it’s out of consideration for the people around me that I try to avoid it and the accompanying whining on a plane.) How many novel plane toys and snacks was that parent supposed to waste on keeping her kid quiet and occupied (for your sake!) during the 10 minutes before take-off? She was using every trick she had to keep the kid interested in looking at luggage out the window while there was still luggage to look at out the window. Of course she had to talk a lot to do it – luggage out the window is not that interesting! But for the next several hours, the child was going to be looking at a beige tray table or gray clouds, so let’s talk ALL ABOUT THE LUGGAGE while we still have the chance and save the fruit snacks until we get desperate because there’s nothing else to do.

  14. Gina March 1, 2017 at 11:25 am #

    This is a pet peeve of mine…a GIANT one. When I take my littles to the play place where there is NO danger and kids are SUPPOSED to play on their own and interact there are always parents who “narrate” every single solitary movement..even in older 2-3’s.
    Another thing I can’t understand is the constant praise. A child is dancing, to the music is her/his own head and inevitably somebody says “great dancing”. Two possible results: Child gets self-concious and stops dancing OR child starts to look for approval every time s/he dances.
    Another: child is sitting, observing, or just chilling and inevitably, someone says “don’t you want to…..” Result: Child learns it’s never ok to just “be”….

    These ARE Free Range concepts because to raise FRK, you have to give them freedom to be themselves, including being in their own heads sometimes. And finding things for themselves. And figuring out things.

  15. Stacey March 1, 2017 at 11:33 am #

    Thanks for your description. I have nothing against “pedagogy” but yes, the constant “narration” (perfect word) of every twitch seems exhausting for the parents, and becomes something for the kid to tune out.
    The kid I saw on the airplane was quiet and well behaved and pretty disinterested in the mother’s litany. They were busy looking at, and playing with, the toy that was in their hands. It wasn’t about judging the parent, I just don’t understand how they can keep up that constant monologue, or why the feel so compelled to fill the silence. And yes, praise, constant praise, for merely existing, also excessive.

  16. James March 1, 2017 at 11:34 am #

    AmyP: I’m a scientist. My personality is to take an interest in rocks and animals (and, to a lesser extent, plants–sorry, but the other phyla just don’t interest me). I also talk out loud, because it’s easier to hear how stupid an idea sounds if you say it out loud. NOT talking to my children about the various things around them would be an alteration to my personality.

  17. SKL March 1, 2017 at 11:52 am #

    My kids were slow to talk conversationally. They had been in a non-English-speaking foster home, so that might have had something to do with it. Their nanny spoke broken English which just confused and annoyed them. So it was up to single parent me. I am an extreme introvert. Talking is not my favorite thing, but I did a lot of it around my kids, thinking maybe they would talk back eventually.

    Well eventually they began to talk back. And one of my kids developed the annoying habit of repeating the same things over and over. I finally had to make a rule that she is not allowed to say anything more than 3x, or else. I figure this is my punishment for talking at them so much. 😛

    What I did notice is that my kids’ speech improved the more they were around *different* people. Like when they’d spent the day with the grandparents, they’d suddenly start talking like older kids. I finally sent them to preschool so they could be immersed in the language of “other people.”

    I think that reading aloud from interesting storybooks also helps.

    I do think it’s natural for parents to try to make the most of the time they get with their kids, especially those of us who work and have to squeeze things into smaller time slots. The jury is out on how much difference it actually makes. 🙂

  18. test March 1, 2017 at 11:57 am #

    “Ok honey walk this way, open the door,goodjob,nowkeepgoing,that’s right honeyoknowgooverhere,keep going thank you honey good job.”

    That is to keep the kid on task and speed up the whole thing. My toddlers tended to stop and play with random item if I was not giving instructions like that. Or just went complete different way when encountering closed door. Yeah, they would figure it out eventually, but I want to go that way and open the door NOW.

    I also randomly taught my kids things. Including letters, simple math or just random facts. Not all the time, but someone could overhear me doing that and be annoyed like this lady. I don’t really care and quite frankly have no reason to care. Sometimes I did it because I was bored, other times because I wanted the kid to remain calm, because I really wanted the kid to learn things and yet other times because I simply was in the mood for it.

    Also, the parent in plane might have know something about the kid you don’t know. Many kids change moods fast and exploring mode in the plane would have been annoying to more people then just this lady.

    Most importantly, who cares what parent says any given 10 minutes snipped of their lives. Unless they are abusive. If they have been silent, it does not mean the parent is never talking to the child and bad. If they are talking, it does not mean they think kid will grow dumb otherwise.

  19. mer March 1, 2017 at 12:05 pm #

    “The kid was well behaved and quiet but the parent made me need noise cancelling head phones.”

    @james, you are describing an interaction with your kids, as you said “…having a conversation”.

    The way I read the “letter” especially the last sentence, the parent was doing all the talking. Heck that sounds a lot like the person on cell phone that thinks everyone needs to hear one side of a conversation. (annoying as all get out)

    Remember the “Boy who cried wolf?” “cone of verbiage” and “you must say 1million words to your baby” are the main reason that teanagers don’t hear a word their parents say.

  20. Christopher Byrne March 1, 2017 at 12:17 pm #

    And more important, let the child talk to YOU. Child-directed interactions are potentially much more productive because the child is already engaged. Babbling words at a child without sufficient vocabulary and cognitive development ends up sounding like noise to them. Will the child ultimately make sense of the noise? In most cases, yes.

    Free range is about respecting the child and his or her abilities at a given time. Overwhelming them with constant banter that they may not be able to understand is more likely to teach them how to tune you out than enhance vocabulary. We see this all the time when kids are interacting with toys. If the toy is too advanced, he or she just tosses it aside (literally or metaphorically).

  21. Catherine Caldwell-Harris March 1, 2017 at 12:34 pm #

    see: https://www.amazon.com/Duct-Tape-Parenting-Respectful-Responsible/dp/1937134180

    Has anyone read the book Duct-Tape parenting? The general idea is to put duct tape over our mouths ha ha. Simply Say Less.

    It is hard to do. I try to talk less because the more I talk, the more they ignore me.

  22. Elisabeth March 1, 2017 at 12:34 pm #

    Ha! This reminds me (in an opposite kind of way) of a time when my kids were little and i was actually CONFRONTED by a woman at an airport gate for failing to interact ENOUGH with my toddler. My older was 4, my younger was about 18 months, and for 3 days he and my sick father we’d been visiting had required all of my attention. My older had been waiting for 3 days to play her new card game with me. I owed her. I gave the baby a book to eat and sat him on the floor between my feet and precariously balanced Crazy 8 cards on my knee while trying to keep him from grabbing all of them. My older kid needed 5 minutes of as close to undivided interest as i could muster for her.

    In a crowded terminal, in front of everyone (because she made sure she was addressing not just me but everyone sitting near by -as if it were a seminar on child development), she said “I need to share with you that I understand why you would want to play with that nice big girl you have there, the big girls are so much fun, but you have to understand that what you are asking of your toddler is completely developmentally inappropriate. He needs your engagement – you can tell by the way he is grabbing the cards from you that he is desperate for it and it is SO critical to his mental and emotional development that I just had to come over and say something.” She went on to give me some suggestions for ways we could interact and that I could even engage that “nice, big girl” in helping out too.

    I can’t say my response was completely mature, but I wanted HER to understand that she had not spent the last 3 days with us, that she had not seen me put off and put off again one-on-one time with the nice, big girl so that I could bounce that poor neglected baby on my knee, holding his gaze, while I changed my dad’s bed linens, in between the 30 minute long nursing sessions that i still indulged the boy in pretty much whenever he asked.

    She responded that I should not be upset because she was coming from a “place of love.” I told her what place I wanted to send her to which then led the nice, big girl to start crying and we packed up the cards and headed to the other side of the gate.

    My point here is that those parents who are going over the top are potentially a by-product of the same impetus that sent the envoy from the place of love to speak to me: this notion that “parenting” is this highly active verb and if we’re not thoroughly engaged in the process and THINKING about how we are going about it, well who KNOWS how many of those precious, budding neurons are just shriveling on the vine (bad metaphor mix i know, but you get it).

    I am going to try to eliminate the word “parent” as a verb, frankly. It’s pretty insidiously ensconced in our language, but it’s so entangled in notions of “good” and “bad” (wherein even “indifferent” means bad now) that it’s just too loaded to be used to anyone’s benefit.

  23. E March 1, 2017 at 12:54 pm #

    James said: “Using a small and non-representative subset of a set to evaluate the set is a fallacy. Just because you see someone doing something in a particular setting you know to be abnormal, doesn’t mean that this is their normal behavior. Harshly judging parents for how they handle ten potentially stressful minutes says far, FAR more about you than it does about the parents.”

    Thank you! I really hate this micro-sample sizes being used to project something on a complete stranger. How is this different than deciding a parent with their nose in their phone is neglectful? How is the judgement any different?

    No one can possibly know what led a parent/child to this moment. Does the Mom keep her nose in her phone ALL the time or is she reading a book on her kindle app while her kid plays. Is the airport kid notoriously a handful in that setting and the parent knows how to best distract them or does she just yammer on constantly. NO ONE knows. Maybe the kid had a mega meltdown 20 minutes ago and she’s trying to keep the good times rolling. Maybe she presumes that travelers will tolerate her chatter more than a kicking/screaming kid? Who knows.

    Hell, I don’t enjoy flying as an ADULT and I certainly do things a little differently due to those (statistically irrational I know) nerves.

    This is not free-range parenting, it’s judgement. If your spouse or your sibling or your nanny is doing this to your kid and it bothers you, then that’s a conversation to have with them. The drive by eye roll takes are not interesting imo.

  24. E March 1, 2017 at 12:58 pm #

    @Elisabeth — or maybe this Mom that was chattering “at” her toddler has some backstory that no one knew about, just like you. Like perhaps she actually has more experience with traveling with her own kid than a total stranger. Or maybe she was nervous herself, or maybe the kid was on the verge of a meltdown, or they’d left the other parent behind and she was distracting him, etc, etc, etc.

    It works both ways, anyone stranger who wants to judge you for being a neglectful parent or a overly hovering parent is doing the same thing. Talking out of turn. IMO of course.

  25. Kirsten March 1, 2017 at 1:16 pm #

    So true! And I hate to have things pointed out to me like that even today. I know I would have hated that as a child. Let the child breathe! Let her think and explore.

    And I have to say, the two most grating words in the world to me these days are, “Good job!” It is so contrary to good development. There is at least one study from the last ten years (I can’t find the reference right now) that shows children who are overpraised for every little thing they do become like puppets, performing everything they do for a type of automated praise instead of just doing things because they want to. So the child who might have enjoyed going down the slide a bunch of times just for the – FUN – of it won’t be able to do that because his mother has made this into one more achievement, “Good job! You went down the slide.” He is now performing for praise, rather than following his natural instincts. Over time this excessive praise demotivates the child and makes her depressed.

  26. K March 1, 2017 at 1:26 pm #

    “My point here is that those parents who are going over the top are potentially a by-product of the same impetus that sent the envoy from the place of love to speak to me: this notion that “parenting” is this highly active verb and if we’re not thoroughly engaged in the process and THINKING about how we are going about it, well who KNOWS how many of those precious, budding neurons are just shriveling on the vine (bad metaphor mix i know, but you get it).”

    And I think it could also be just the opposite. Sometimes I narrate what’s going on to my 2-year-old, not because I’m trying to build up his neurons, but just to get through the day. Much less so now that he’s an active participant in conversations, but when you have a baby who can’t talk, you can get into a habit of narration just to fill the silence, and because maybe language development doesn’t require constant chatter, but it does require SOME conversation, and what does that consist of with non-verbal infants and toddlers? Narration, asking questions they can’t answer, telling them about grown-up things they couldn’t possibly understand, singing silly songs. Maybe it becomes a bit of a habit and lasts longer than it needs to. I can’t bring myself to say that it’s that harmful.

    I recently started narrating while brushing his teeth. “Canines, canines, canines, molars, molars, molars, etc.” Because I want him to know more about dentistry than the other kids in daycare? No. Because it’s one of several mostly unsuccessful strategies I try for getting him to stop kicking and screaming while I brush his teeth. And he didn’t care about molars, and he didn’t care about molars, and then all of the sudden, he cared about molars! Now he asks to see pictures of molars while we brush. Is this a win for narration because he might one day have an advantage on the dental boards? No, it’s a win for narration because he looks at pictures of molars, and I brush his teeth, and there’s less screaming involved! It’s a win because it incidentally piqued his curiosity in something, which is always a good thing, even if you think it can’t be accomplished through narration. It’s a win because Grandma is a dental hygienist and she was thrilled to hear him ask, “Are those your molars in the back, Grandma?”

    So even if I’m just doing it occasionally to get through the day, or through the bedtime routine, and even if my child is on the verge of outgrowing the stage where this is a common or useful tactic, I have to say that now that I’m stopping to examine it more closely than ever before, I’m nonetheless seeing benefits in terms of piquing a child’s curiosity (in molars, in this example), improving family relationships (a common interest to talk to Grandma about), etc. Goes down as “not harmful” in my book.

  27. Jason March 1, 2017 at 2:13 pm #

    When you’re out in public, sometimes other people’s behavior will annoy you because they aren’t you. C’est la vie.

  28. Ariel March 1, 2017 at 2:15 pm #

    I think part of it is; out here in California, they’ve got this ongoing PSA that reminds you to “talk, read, sing” to your baby, because their brains are developing from the moment they’re born. It’s in billboards, on the radio, and tv. On the tv commercial they show a mom on her phone, and then the shot cuts to a baby in his playpen making a sad face. But who knows, with how “interactive” youre supposed to be with babies these days, maybe this is her first time she’s been able to talk to an adult all day! Maybe it’s the kid’s nap time/quiet time and she uses that time to (rightfully) do something for herself!

  29. Ariel March 1, 2017 at 2:19 pm #

    Oops forgot to write it before: I LOVE hearing stories about the babies/toddlers that give a
    look when they’re baby-talked at. They’re humans too;

  30. SKL March 1, 2017 at 2:33 pm #

    I’ve heard of kids not being spoken to when small. I always find that hard to imagine, but people assure me it really does happen. People hold and feed and change their babies but don’t think they need to talk to them.

    This often comes up in the context of what KG should do. The argument is that many kids come in not knowing hardly any language because their parents don’t do the most basic level of verbal interaction with them. Therefore the KG needs to pick up from almost point zero.

    I dunno. I guess all these people can’t be lying. But I can’t imagine, even as an introvert, taking care of a kid and never exchanging words. :/

  31. SKL March 1, 2017 at 2:41 pm #

    I’ve never done the “good job” thing though. It isn’t necessary to thank a child for doing normal kid things. It works for me to acknowledge what seems important to the child. “You’re learning” was often spoken when my kids were little. “You seem happy about that.” Or where appropriate, “Thank you, that was helpful.”

  32. test March 1, 2017 at 2:52 pm #

    IMO, if you are seriously evaluating pros and cons of speaking to child on plane or in front of doors, then you are overthinking parenting. Parenting is so much more pleasant when I don’t think about it and just do what comes natural. The natural thing has some relation to how the child behaved in the past when I was talking vs not talking, but even if not, it is easier not to worry about these micro decisions.

  33. Workshop March 1, 2017 at 3:35 pm #

    If I wasn’t narrating stuff to my kids, I’d be talking to myself. And that’s just begging for an evaluation by people carrying straight-jackets. Not that I may not need psycho-active meds, but having the kids around mean I can pawn off my strange behavior by pointing to them.

    Seriously, though, I have pointed out what’s going on when we fly, but it’s more interactive. And I’ve never asked them to spell “luggage.” I’m more likely to point out the humor of the word and wonder why they didn’t call it “nansentos” instead. Then start saying “nansentos” with weird accents, apparently forgetting every other word in my vocabulary.

  34. Kenny Felder March 1, 2017 at 3:47 pm #

    I’ve never thought about this behavior before, but at first blush it’s not obvious to me that it’s a bad thing, as opposed to being just one more parenting style.

  35. katie March 1, 2017 at 3:48 pm #

    I don’t really have a problem with this. It’s not like they are doing something actually harmful like driving an SUV indifferent to the harm to others, just to make up for their insecurities.

  36. James March 1, 2017 at 4:24 pm #

    “She responded that I should not be upset because she was coming from a “place of love.” ”

    I hate that concept. I absolutely hate it. Apparently people think that if they “come from a place of love” (whatever THAT means), I am not allowed to evaluate whether their orders should be followed or not. It’s nonsense.

    It does NOT come from a place of love. It’s all about control. They want you to do what they say, pure and simple. They have reasons for it? I don’t care; every criminal in history has had their reasons for their actions. That doesn’t make it right. I’ve seen the effects of this sort of behavior. I’ve seen mothers who’s children are ahead of the curve in all respects terrified–crying–because they didn’t think they did enough. I’ve seen families nearly ripped apart because people couldn’t leave other people’s parenting styles alone. If your actions cause nothing but pain you’re not coming from a place of love–you’re acting on sadism.

  37. SanityAnyone? March 1, 2017 at 4:25 pm #

    I’m with you on this one. Sometimes I want to yell “Just stop, already!”

    I think I had the instincts to give my kids room for a real dialog or for silent cogitation, however…

    When my son wasn’t talking at 18 months old, I began to panic. I got him tested, hearing, development, went to the language study lab and had him evaluated. They said that he was fine with a slight delay. However, they offered me participation in a program. It was called “It Takes Two to Talk”, and relates to what you described here. The bottom line is that children developing skills need time to play their part. The goal is not to get the right answer into the air, but for the child to make any attempt to communicate. We were taught to ask a question or offer two choices and then stay still and silent while looking at the child. In our head, we were to slowly count elephants “one elephant, two elephants, three elephants”. That’s how we stopped ourselves from answering for the child. Any attempt by the child to communicate was accepted: pointing, saying a word, looking at the preferred choice.


    “Honey, do you want milk or orange juice? Orange juice,right? No? Milk? You like orange juice.”
    “Honey, do you want milk or orange juice?”
    If no answer, then help a little: “This is orange juice, this one is milk. Point to what you want to drink.” . Do not forced them to say “milk”. Don’t force an answer on them. If it doesn’t work then leave it alone “Let’s have milk today.”

    We were definitely not supposed to over-describe, define, and elaborate unless the child was engaged and asking for more!

    The case worker took videos of each parent working with kids three times throughout the session. At the beginning, a large percentage of parents had the habit of talking for over their kids. Near the end, you could see a much more respectful and engaging style of two-way communication forming.

  38. SanityAnyone? March 1, 2017 at 4:32 pm #

    Oh… you know what trend of recent years really drives me crazy? It’s that saccharine, afraid to be boss thing parents say sweetly: “No THANK you!”

    As in, “No THANK you – we don’t hit!”, “No THANK you – we don’t scream at our Mommies!”, “No THANK you – we don’t run into the street, honey.”

    Grow a set and just say “No!” or “Stop!” or “No hitting!” You don’t thank a kid who is misbehaving because you are afraid to set off their little temper tantrum trigger. It just makes you sound like a doormat.

  39. CrazyCatLady March 1, 2017 at 4:39 pm #

    I talk to my dogs with a high sing-song voice. My cats get a low, purr like voice. My kids, I always just talked to them in a normal voice. And…I expected my kids to respond. (The dogs too, the cats, not so much.) In other words, for the humans, I expected a conversation, or when very little, a response, like a smile. That is how adults act, and the world of adults is what I am training them for. What other people do…eh, talk to your kids. Let them respond. Even if that is pointing or what ever. If you run a constant barrage, I am not going to to worry about it.

  40. James Pollock March 1, 2017 at 4:40 pm #


    When THEY aren’t happy with the way WE raise our kids, it is because THEY are meddling busybodies.
    But when WE aren’t happy with the way THEY raise their kids, THEY should change?

  41. donald March 1, 2017 at 4:44 pm #

    When my son was two years old we bonded so closely, that I’d hug him tight. As I’m hugging him I’d say, “I’m going to squeeze the stuffings out of you”. I’d tell him that I’d treat him like a teddy bear and that I’d squeeze so tight that he would break apart at the seams and the stuffings would pop out!

    Of course, I didn’t. However, this letter shows that some parents do this for real! They get so caught up in the moment of bonding that they don’t realize the damage that they’re causing!

    However, when the child is continually talked down to, they grow up with the belief that they always require this much instruction. They believe they are stupid.

  42. Abigail March 1, 2017 at 4:48 pm #

    In all fairness, my kids do walk into walls WAY too much. In a house they’ve been in all their lives. Bhahahaha! I bet if I just warned them to watch where they walked…oh wait! I do.

  43. catherine March 1, 2017 at 5:10 pm #

    Listen–sometimes you have a choice between a cone of verbiage and a screaming child. Haven’t we all been there? You are using every bit of oomph you have to keep that kid’s last thread of calm together. To an observer, it seems nutty. But it’s better than a screaming kid. (I also think it’s better than a kid hypnotized into silence by a device.)

  44. donald March 1, 2017 at 5:19 pm #

    Being constantly talked down to is insulting. Children aren’t the only ones that get talked down to. Yesterday I pointed out that the world has gone made with safety and considers that everything is dangerous.

    Employers have to spend X amount of dollars and hours to discuss safety with the employees. If they achieve this quota, they’re entitled to pay less for insurance. This is good but it’s taken way to far. For example, every day we’d have a 20 minute safety meeting. We didn’t have anything new to talk about so we’d just reinstate to be careful. Also, every 3 months I’d have a written exam about safety.

    Meanwhile, the economy is in bad shape. The US struggles to compete with overseas companies. As a result, the stress of unemployment increases domestic violence, suicide, and robbery.

    It’s a good thing that employers are so concerned about the safety and the wellbeing of people.

  45. donald March 1, 2017 at 5:32 pm #

    “However, when the child is continually talked down to, they grow up with the belief that they always require this much instruction. They believe they are stupid.”

    I KNOW this very well! The pain of feeling stupid, inadequate, and incompetent has been lingering in me for decades! This is why I’m so strongly against people that encourage their children to develop depression and anxiety!

    This is why I praised Natalie Johnson for pushing past her 20 minutes of terror!

  46. pentamom March 1, 2017 at 5:49 pm #

    “Honey, do you want milk or orange juice? Orange juice,right? No? Milk? You like orange juice.”

    I know what I’m going to say wasn’t the original context of this quote, but THIS is what drives me absolutely up the wall. Sometimes it’s parents giving choices to kids who are so young they can’t really handle the choice, and sometimes it’s parents doing precisely what’s in the quote: giving a choice, and then second-guessing and trying to talk the kid out of it.

    If you know it’s a strong possibility the kid will choose something they don’t really want because they don’t grasp the point, CHOOSE FOR THEM. Especially when there are people standing behind you in line, but at other times, too. As they mature, and show that choices are something that actually mean something to them, let them make the choices. But I think this game of pretending to let them choose and then talking them out of it actually discourages, not encourages, the idea that they can learn to make choices for themselves.

  47. pentamom March 1, 2017 at 5:52 pm #

    Well it’s been over a dozen years since I had toddlers, and I don’t remember them “walking into walls” all that much. (I noticed one of my daughters did it often enough as a four year old that I decided it was time for ballet lessons, but even then, it wasn’t so constant that I was always on the watch for it and structured all my interactions around it.) But if they do, wouldn’t they learn not to do by doing it?

  48. Donna March 1, 2017 at 7:10 pm #

    SKL – Not talking to children is not uncommon at all. When kids are in foster care, they have visits with their parents that are supervised by others. We often get reports that the parent barely talked to the child during the entire visit. They feed them meals, change their diapers, etc without saying a word. They have to actually be taught to talk to their children.

  49. donald March 1, 2017 at 9:09 pm #

    “When THEY aren’t happy with the way WE raise our kids, it is because THEY are meddling busybodies.
    But when WE aren’t happy with the way THEY raise their kids, THEY should change?”

    I sort of agree but sort of disagree. Helicopter parents can be very critical of the way others raise their kids. However, Free rangers can be just as bad. People are people. Some are great, understanding, and kind. Some are obnoxious jerks with an attitude of, “My way of thinking is the only way” or “Everybody is entitled to MY opinion”. (I can be guilty of that sometimes)

    However, I also disagree. That’s because I see that talking down to a child is a form of abuse. The abuse can be minor or extremely major depending on how much the child is bubble wrapped.

  50. Anna March 1, 2017 at 11:31 pm #

    Um, that was probably WHY the kid was well behaved and quiet. Parents try very hard to ward off the wrath of fellow travelers. But it seems like we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t.

  51. BL March 2, 2017 at 3:19 am #

    ” Helicopter parents can be very critical of the way others raise their kids. However, Free rangers can be just as bad.”

    Really? Where are incidents where a free-ranger has actually called the cops (or CPS) on parents who talk too much. Or don’t let their kids walk to school. Or drag them into every errand-stop instead of letting them wait in the car.

  52. Katie G March 2, 2017 at 6:29 am #

    It is possible to give positive feedback that isn’t showering a child with shallow praise-0 especially one or two word responses like “correct”, “Thank you” “yes,”, or “I wouldn’t have thought of that! Interesting!” etc. In homeschooling, I do that often, and in some instances I say things like “Thank you for working diligently,” which is fairly meaningful. I save the “good job!” for what stands out as unusally good work such as spelling tests with no mistakes or a very well-made bed!

  53. E March 2, 2017 at 8:33 am #

    Donald said: “However, I also disagree. That’s because I see that talking down to a child is a form of abuse. The abuse can be minor or extremely major depending on how much the child is bubble wrapped.”

    You get the following statement is EXACTLY the same right?

    “However, I also disagree. That’s because I see leaving your 7 year old alone at the park is a form of abuse. The abuse can be minor or extremely major depending on how much the child is neglected”

    I mean COME ON. Observing someone (a stranger) babbling to their child is ABUSE?

  54. James March 2, 2017 at 11:17 am #

    “That’s because I see that talking down to a child is a form of abuse.”

    It would be an interesting experiment to attempt to draw a line between “talking down to” and “speaking at an appropriate level to” a child. It’s variable, depending on the child’s development, the relationship between the parent and child, the location, and a thousand other variables. This is true of children and adults. If my father says “Shouldn’t you use a bigger screwdriver?” it’s not talking down to me–he taught me to use tools and has earned the right to correct me when he sees fit. If my wife says it–in exactly the same tone and circumstances–I’d consider it talking down to me, because she has admitted to knowing nothing about working with such tools.

    Plus, you have to factor in things like counter-signaling and how humans interact. What may sound like talking down to my child from the outside may in fact be a running joke between my kids and me. You’d have no way to know that in a ten-minute conversation. Or, it could be that I’m trying to teach the kid. Teaching and conversing are different forms of communication, and people utilize different tones for each. Again, hard to tell in a ten-minute observation.

    How do you intend to disentangle all of these various issues?

    “Well it’s been over a dozen years since I had toddlers, and I don’t remember them “walking into walls” all that much.”

    Mine do on occasion. Mostly by accident. A lot of their play involves chasing each, tackling, climbing on, and otherwise physically interacting with each other. Combine that with poor coordination (due to being so young), attempts to evade being tackled, climbed on, etc, and a pair of good-sized dogs that join in from time to time (gentle as can be, but they like to play with the boys), and you get the occasional kid walking straight into a wall. Or door. Or chair. Or floor. Or parent. Or tree. Mostly they bounce off, laugh, and chase after their brother. On occasion one of us parents needs to step in with a kiss to make the ouchy feel better, but not nearly as often as you’d think.

  55. Daniel March 2, 2017 at 11:35 am #

    This bothers me too. I’ve seen second graders that still speak like babies and say nonsense because that’s all they’ve ever heard. I do the opposite, I speak to my infant the way I speak with my peers. “Lucy, spitting up on your outfit was not a very prudent decision.”

  56. Paul M March 2, 2017 at 12:41 pm #

    I read an article last year in the Southwest Magazine about the doctor that came up with million word idea. She is a doctor that performs cochlear implant surgeries in children. She noticed that some children progressed rapidly to being proficient in communication similar to their peers while others basically had no progress at all and were the same level verbally as when they were deaf. So she studied why that was and found that it primarily had to do with how many words the child heard spoken in any given day. TV and other electronic communication did not count. She also found it did not really depend on socio-economic factors at all. So there is certainly some merit to describing things in more detail, or how things work, or just distracting your small ones by pointing out mundane things if only to keep them moving forward or from whining. I do that with my 2 and 3-year old girls. But I don’t talk down to them. It’s much better if you can get them to count something or answer your questions about something, or imagine something about what they see. That way they are interacting with their surroundings, and me as the parent, rather than me just talking (talk about boring). Kids are pretty smart, and I always love to hear their thoughts on things cause they are almost
    always entertaining.

  57. JulieH March 2, 2017 at 12:58 pm #

    On the “you just can’t win if you care about what other people think…” front

    My parents purposely talked over my head. They would occasionally stop and ask me if I understood what they said. If I said no, they would ask me why I didn’t stop them and ask. This was typically around the dinner table. The dictionary would be pulled out. Discussion would be had. Great skills learned.

    I now purposely use very high level vocabulary with my kids, typically around the dinner table (because that is part of what that time together is about). I do what my parents did. Now my kids speak up when with people when they don’t understand what they are being told. They have also developed a much larger vocabulary. The groan at the time, but both girls have come back with appreciation when something came up in class and they knew the answer or could figure something out because of it.

    I have actually had other parents give me a hard time when I’ve done it in a public setting…that I shouldn’t be talking over my kid’s heads like that because it will make them feel bad. Even worse was the time I knew full well that my kids knew exactly what I was telling them because all the words were part of their vocabulary…

  58. SKL March 2, 2017 at 3:27 pm #

    I would also note that young kids communicate nonverbally, and a stranger might have no idea they are doing so. So it may look very one-sided to you, but it might be a back-and-forth between me and my kid.

    For example, both of my kids had nonverbal, very subtle ways of expressing physical needs / wants such as using the restroom, eating, being picked up. A big smile might mean “that’s so fun, do some more.” A curious look might mean, “that’s new to me, explain some more.” Refusing to make eye contact would be the signal for “I’ve had enough of this conversation,” LOL. I’m going to respond to my kid’s cues before I’m gonna worry about what some stranger thinks of it.

  59. SKL March 2, 2017 at 3:41 pm #

    On the topic of talking over kids’ heads: young kids have huge receptive vocabularies though they can rarely say all those words. When my kids moved here from a Spanish-speaking environment, my eldest was 12mos. There were no indications that she was smarter than average; in fact, she was so quiet that one of my friends suggested I get her tested for Down syndrome. One day about a month after homecoming, she was lying in a funny position and I said to my mom, “she’s so flexible, she could practically scratch her head with her toes.” Immediately she reached her foot up and scratched her head with her toes. I was like, “OK so I guess she understands what she hears.” Granted, these were not fancy words, but she had only been hearing English for 1 month.

    When my kids were 3, they saw The Sound of Music. I offered a few words of explanation for what was going on, but didn’t really expect it to stick. Well a couple days later, my youngest asked me, “why da Nazis took over Austria?” and months later, angry at being told what to do, she told my dad “you’re like da Nazi police.”

    When youngest was 5, she asked how Freddie Mercury died. I told her “Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome.” She wanted to know how you catch that. Not ready to go down that path, I tried to put her off with “exchange of bodily fluids.” Days later she asked, “are you ready to tell me what ‘exchange of bodily fluids’ means exactly?”

    Nevertheless, it took me years to get the aunties to speak to my kids in proper sentences. Ugh.

  60. Katie G March 2, 2017 at 4:41 pm #

    Then too, children (like my niece and nephew, ages 2 & 4.5) who are raised with two languages in the home (English and French in their case) take longer to speak fluently, simply because they have twice as many words to learn and have to sort out which ones to use together. Most children have to learn only “shoe”, “potato”, or “Car” but they have to learn those along with “chaussure”, “pomme de terre”, and “voiture”.

  61. Sally March 3, 2017 at 7:34 am #

    I call this loud parenting. I have six kids. Fist and last are 15 years apart. I have dealt with this performance parenting for 28 years and it seems to he gotten worse in the last ten. I am a teacher so I understand the benefits of talking to your kids! However, nine times out of ten it feels like they are doing it for the benefit of the audience around them. It’s like they want to prove what a wonderful parent they are. It’s annoying to others and distracting to those that just want to have a normal conversation with our own kids. An expensive dinner was recently ruined because the man behind us talked nonstop to his elementary age kids about topics that had to be over their heads. I say this because they rarely responded to his questions and comments. I felt like he was just trying to impress the other diners, not educateor engage his kids. It was obnoxious and I couldn’t wait to get out of there.

  62. SKL March 3, 2017 at 8:46 am #

    LOL about loud parents in restaurants. Usually in my experience they are yelling at their kids for not having perfect manners. 😛 When my kids were little, I used to worry that they would disturb the other diners, but I eventually realized that 100% of the time, someone older (usually an adult) was louder.

    I have always taught my kids that only the people at our table should be able to hear what we say. Whether we’re talking about astrophysics or buttcheeks.

  63. Isabella March 8, 2017 at 5:50 pm #

    To tell you the truth, I’m not a big fan of anyone’s kb videos. Here’s why, you aren’t getting any feedback from the person on the video. They can be &#&&;;&#10451#111;1#119;ing you the best techniques in the world, but they’ll never see if you’re performing them correctly. I suggest looking for a qualified kb coach near you. Go to ikff.net, or kettlebell concepts.com, to find a great coach. You will also find qualified coaches with the rkc, as well

  64. CL March 9, 2017 at 3:19 pm #

    Can we have a little less judgment? As a parent of a child with autism who is just starting to become verbal, this is how I talk to my child–because this is the only kind of talking that gets him to respond. If you don’t know anything about who you’re looking at, don’t judge their parenting decisions.