When my kids were tiny infants and I didn’t need parenting books yet but I actually had time to read them, I read something about never repeating yourself over and over again. The idea was that children should listen the first time and by repeating yourself over and over again, you’re letting them win… or something. Well my kids are turning into the biggest winners since Charlie Sheen because lately they will never EVER respond to my voice until I’ve repeated myself three or four or eight HUNDRED times.
It can be something as simple as saying their names to get their attention.
“Laylee. Laylee. Laylee. Hey Laylee. LAYLEE!!!!!”
Or it could be a specific request like, “Please come in and set the table.”
“Please come in and set the table. I really need your help. Please put down the lego and come set the table Magoo. Magoo, I need you to come set the table now. It’s time for dinner. Can I get some help please? MAGOO, SET THE TABLE OR SO HELP MEEEE!!!!!”
And they give me this look that says, “Why are you freaking out? If you needed me, why didn’t you just ask?”
I don’t think it has anything to do with deafness. Laylee seems to be doing fine with her hearing aids and Magoo’s actually worse about ignoring me than she is. It’s a progressive disease of inattention to parents. The more time passes, the less they can tune in to our voices.
So I think back to that book and the “only say it once” rule and I wonder what would happen if I only said things once. Would they be left home alone because they didn’t come and get in the car when I said it was time to leave? Would they ever eat or sleep or do another chore? How long would it take for our house to deteriorate into Lord of the Flies-style chaos?
I guess I need to set up some kind of consequences if they don’t respond right away. I’m just not sure what to do. They’re getting kind of old for time out. I’m not actually going to stop feeding them if they don’t set the table when I ask. Adding more chores is always a win-win. It keeps them busy and gets work done around the house.
Maybe if I start whispering all the time, it will freak them out enough to induce them to listen. Maybe I could sing all of our conversations operatically.
Honestly, I’d handle sass better than being totally ignored. Take my 18-month-old for example. She loves to run away shrieking when I tell her it’s time for diaper change. When I try to get her to eat her vegetables, she frequently laughs in my face. I can deal with it because she’s a baby and because she actually acknowledges my presence and not just when she needs me to enter the code to unlock the Wii.
Which brings me to a point – the Wii. There’s a handy consequence. Maybe this Wii-code-keeper will suddenly lose the power of hearing when they’re looking for a digital fix.
What do you guys do when your kids refuse to listen to a word you say?