I have a younger brother, and he is annoying. Everyone thinks his younger sibling is annoying; but, honestly, the younger ones often try to bother their betters.
Don’t believe me? When cell phones were a new thing, my teenage brother changed our mother’s ringtone to The Family Guy‘s Stewie saying, “Mom mom mummy mama… ”
He thought it was hilarious. …As if she hadn’t actually had us do that to her in real life.
Whether it’s a little brother or sister or not, all children are adept at repetitive behaviors. They say or do something over and over (and over); sometimes for kicks, oftentimes to get their way. If you think giving in will stop the annoying-ness, however, you are very wrong.
My advice for today is:
Don’t Give In!
Seriously. If you have said, “No candy before dinner” and catch them with Smarties, take the package away. When one boy smacks his sister, put him in Time Out just like your rules say will happen. Don’t want to impulse-buy toys every time you go shopping? Don’t!
The child who has exceptions learns that exceptions are the rule. And, elephants got nothin’ compared to the memory recollection of a child.
That’s not to say that sticking to your guns is easy. It’s not. Even after I (mostly) never give in, I often have to endure several minutes of telling my children, “No.” BUT, not capitulating does lead to respect, obedience, trust, faith, and fewer nagging sessions.
If you’re in the middle of a “no” session with your kid, here are some ways to keep your cool:
- Attempt to distract the whiner. He is probably hungry, tired, or bored; and badgering you is entertainment.
- Sing your answers. ♫ “Noooo! You may not have a coookieeeee! I love you too much to ruin your heeaaallllth!” ♪
- Put on some music. I do this as a last resort in the car, particularly if I cannot pull over to resolve a fight.
- Talk to the complaining child as best as you can, and tell her that you are not going to be able to talk to her for five minutes if the asking doesn’t stop. Then, set a timer for 5 minutes and ignore the noise.
- Pick a NON-PHONE task to do whilst repeating your calm, reasonable, “No.” Activities may include dishes, laundry, dusting, light cleaning, etc.
I recommend against an activity with a phone because that’s teaching children to use phones for distraction.
I also recommend against doing a task like pruning because you’ll be holding a sharp object.
- Imagine you’re somewhere else. Meditation and yoga exercises really help with this skill, or currently having a crush on a hot movie star.
- Repeat back what he says as if you are a parrot, but do so with a lot of love and laughter. You’re not making fun of your child, after all; just the whining.
- Write the word NO on a Post-It and stick it to your mouth. Then your voice won’t get hoarse.
- Turn to your spouse, kiss him on the cheek, say, “Your turn,” then go take a nice relaxing closet break.
- Buy some noise-cancellation headphones.
Several of my boys are very concerned about fairness, fixate on erroneous issues, and have periodic mental meltdowns. If I can treat them with loving patience during any of those activities, so can you.
Staying strong will not only teach your offspring that you mean what you say, it will also exercise your own patience and mental endurance.
And you’re going to need that for the teenage years.