Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A Rhetorical Morsel

One thing that can really trip up us moms is when our kids do things that bug us but we don't necessarily have a name for it. Its just those annoying things that they do that you know they shouldn't but you can't identify the underlying character issue. Like a sibling that constantly does things to purposely annoy another sibling. The thing they are doing is not overtly wrong but you want the behavior to stop and the best you can come up with to say is something eloquent like, "Stop annoying your sister!" Another area similar to this is when kids ask the same question over and over again, hoping to get a different, more favorable, answer from mom.

In most cases of nagging, it is very difficult to deal calmly with a child that is wearing you down. One way I have found to get the nagging to stop (aside from giving in) is to raise my voice, get angry and make my kids sorry they asked for the eleventh time. But ah-ha! I have found another rhetorical option. In this approach, you calmly give them a point of obedience, and if they disobey you, you can enforce it as you would enforce any other obedience issue.

Kids, at 9:30AM: "Can we have a treat?"
Mom: "Yes, you may. AFTER lunch."
(two minutes later...)
"Mommmmeeeee, can we have a treeeeeeeet?"
"I already answered that question. Do you remember what the answer was?"

  • If they don't, then repeat the answer and then ask them to tell you what you just said (having them repeat the answer will cement it in their brain and give you the assurance that they have heard and will likely remember the answer next time they ask).
  • If they do remember, have them tell you what the answer was and then praise them for remembering.
And then when they ask again (as my kids do) say something like, "I already answered that question, didn't I? Now please don't ask again." And a follow-up answer could be along the lines of, "I told you that you may not ask me that question again. Will you choose now to obey or disobey?"

Using these words takes a behavior that is otherwise just annoying and tiresome and difficult to discipline for and turns it around into a very simple obedience issue. Sneaky, huh?


Amy Woodard said...

That's really helpful, Jenne. I'm going to try that next time with Abigail. She might be a bit young yet, but never too soon to start!

Jon and Erin said...

Lovely! Thanks for that. Now, if I could just understand what Noah is saying...I might need to be reminded of that great nugget in a few years. Hold onto it for me will ya?

Pate Family said...

The other thing that sometimes works for me is, "Yes, after lunch, AS LONG AS YOU DON'T ASK AGAIN." A time or two of not getting it because they ask again works wonders