My day is chock full of uttering gentle encouragements to my son and the boys in my care, to behave themselves. You know what I’m talking about, you say them too. “Stop that!” “Don’t put that up your nose.”Keep your hands, feet and entire body to yourself.” “We don’t use inappropriate talk in this family.” “Please stop kicking my seat.” and then there is the frustrated Mommy voice utterance,”KNOCK IT OFF!!!” A few weeks ago, I realized that these are not rare occasions, no indeed not. These are daily, if not hourly outburst that are required in order for me to survive my day. I literally say that same things over, and over, and over, yup and over again. I am that scratched CD in your car, that skips at the same point every time that you listen to it. Not only am I a scratched CD, I’m also an auto responder. Someone hits someone else, company line, “We don’t hit people, it hurts and it is not kind. Would like it if someone hit you?” I’m sure my boys must think I’m the most boring person in the world because they get the same response from me each time. The more I think about it now, it’s probably very comforting that they receive the same response from me. It gives them a very strong sense of consistency. You’d think that my ability to be consistent would help them develop an understanding for the rules and guidelines I expect them to follow, but alas, it isn’t so.
Recently, at a park meet up with a few Moms of kids of varying ages, we were all sharing our stories of having to say or ask the same things over and over again. One Mom asked her son how many times he thought she had asked him to not do something. Her child’s response was priceless, “Like 100 times.” Funny that he could actually put a number to it. But at the same time frustrating that he could put a number to it. He hears her, has heard her, and knows that she has said the same thing over and over. But all that realization has not changed, deterred, or modified his behavior in any way. I want to be consistent, I know that is what is best for my boys, in the long run. They always know what to expect from me, and they don’t ever have to wonder what the rules are. How do I make sure they hear me without going off the deep end, because I am literally frustrated beyond belief that I need to repeat myself so much? My ultimate hope is that when it really counts, when it really matters they will hear my voice inside their little heads telling them to ‘knock it off”, they will finally do what I am asking all on their own. I’m wondering if I respond in a different way, say something so out of left field that my boys would be forced to stop and take stock? More than likely they would add a digit to the comment counter and then end up saying “What the pickles?”