Guest Post: Need a Parent to Kid Dictionary?

When our words get lost in translation

Whether you have one child or a houseful, one common thread parents share is the frustration of feeling ignored by their kids, right? After years of scientific research (translation: five kids) Robyn Welling has solved the mystery of why kids do not heed our warnings and requests. Lucky for us she has graciously agreed to share her own Parent to Kids Dictionary. Print it and keep it handy for those times when parenting gets lost in translation!

Parent to Kid Dictionary 
By Robyn Welling

I used to be convinced that my kids just flat out didn’t listen to me.

I’d say stuff that had no impact whatsoever on their behavior, or – worse yet – they’d do the exact opposite of what I’d asked them to do.

But then I realized the situation is far less sinister than all that. They’re listening to me, they just speak a different language. Since few adults still speak “Kid” fluently, often our kids’ responses don’t seem to make sense.

That’s why I’m here – to clarify why our children appear to be ignoring us and defying our wishes, with a breakdown of what you say, versus what they hear when it’s translated to “Kid-talk” — I hope it helps!

Parent says: Dress warm – it’s cold out!
Kid hears: This would be the perfect day for you to wear a tutu and some legwarmers pulled up to your knees.


Parent says: Stop pouting about walking to school in the rain.
Kid hears: If you keep pouting, a limousine will fly down from the sky and take you to the Video Game Planet, where all they eat is cake and buttery popcorn and nobody ever has to go to school or walk anywhere, which I never told you about before because I’m mean.


Parent says: Let’s go, we’re late!
Kid hears: Go in your room, change your shirt, start looking for a toy or book you’d like to bring along, find a piece of gum under your bed, chew it, get gum stuck in your hair, stab your sibling with a pencil, and wait for me to yell for you again.

Parent says: Don’t get too far ahead.
Kid hears: Call me from Timbuktu when you get there.


Parent says: I’m going to check in a minute to make sure your room’s clean.
Kid hears: Keep playing with your toys, then shove everything under the bed when you hear me coming.


Parent says: I want to get a nice picture of all of you together.
Kid hears: …with your butts in the air.


Parent says: Quit jumping on the couch!
Kid hears: Quit jumping on the couch… until I leave the room. Then continue jumping on the couch.


Parent says: Don’t make me come in there!
Kid hears: You’re safe, I’m way too tired to get up.

Parent says: Don’t do that – you could get hurt!
Kid hears: I don’t know anything about safety. Go ahead and try it your way.


Parent says: Stop making faces – you’re in trouble. It isn’t funny.
Kid hears: Make at least fifty more faces to show me how wrong I am.

Parent says: Don’t touch that.
Kid hears: Get four inches away from that and hover over it like a starving vulture.


Parent says: Don’t get your clothes all dirty.
Kid hears: Do whatever you want.


Parent says: No more Froot Loops.
Kid hears: Eat whatever you want.


Parent says: That’s not how we wear sunglasses.
Kid hears: Wear whatever you want.


Parent says: No.
Kid hears: Maybe.


Parent says: No!
Kid Hears: Probably.


Parent says: I said no!
Kid hears: Ask me again in two minutes.


Parent says: NO!!!
Kid hears: Yes.

About Robyn 

In her own words Robyn Welling is not the best parent, wife or person… not even close. On her blog, Hollow Tree Ventures, you can read all about the shortcuts she takes on her journey to becoming a somewhat passable human being. If history is any guide, she’ll miss the mark entirely. You can also join in the fun on Facebook and Twitter, or find her on CraftFail where she’s a staff writer.

About The Author

Every week we shine a spotlight on some of the Internet's most creative and dynamic parenting bloggers. Find out how they started, how they manage their busy lives, how they build their audience, and how they keep coming up with terrific blog posts day in and day out. All of our featured bloggers will graciously be sharing their favorite posts for Ganz Parent Club readers to enjoy!

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