When your three year old stumbles through a four minute soliloquy about a puddle while waiting in the dreaded elementary school pick up line, it’s NOT important that you understand everything he/she says. It IS important that you have quick, go-to responses when they start yelling DAD!, DAD!, DAAAAAD!, signalling the end of their lecture. Here are Four excellent responses that will all but guarantee you the ability to continue listening to the radio instead of having to ponder deep thoughts on shallow water.
1. “Oh Cool” – This is clearly the easiest, simplest, and should always be your first option. It doesn’t always work, but you’re making no promises or commitments. And let’s be real. Your kid thinks whatever they say IS the coolest, and they’re looking for confirmation.
2. “Oh… you think so?” – It’s a yes or no question. If I know anything, I know that kids need practice answering yes or no questions. It also forces them to re-examine their original idea, which can either teach them valuable skill or at least make them stop talking for a while.
3. “That’s Good Thinking, Chief” – Whether the thinking was sound or not isn’t the issue; they’ll forget what they said anyway. This response provides solid positive reinforcement for exploring profound issues. And all kids like being called Chief. It’s a fact!!
4. “Oh Man, Are you Serious!?!?” – The key is excitement. If you match their enthusiasm, they’ll love you forever, and more importantly, they’ll think you were actually listening.