Have you ever had one of those horribly long days? My husband’s job is demanding, and he had to work extra hours on Thursday. It was just me with the kids for over 12 hours. I’ll be honest, by lunchtime, I felt like I’d already had enough.
The kids were not listening! How often did I need to say, “It’s not snack time” or “Please go play nicely with your sister.” No matter what I did or said, my kids kept arguing, and I was tired of it.
I wished they would respond to my requests, “Okay, mommy,” and walk away. Unfortunately, on that long day, that never happened. But through the years I’ve learned a more effective way to make kids listen and help with the constant whining at home.
What if I told you we had it all wrong and when it comes to correcting misbehavior less is actually more?
Now before we get into it, it’s important to note. I’m all for expression of feelings and teaching kids coping skills. It’s good for kids to learn about emotions and how to handle uncomfortable situations.
But there are some moments when I’ve found I need to stop talking!
Me arguing with my kids over snack time accomplishes nothing. It doesn’t change the situation. We were getting nowhere because no boundaries were made or enforced.
My rationalizing and talking when correcting behavior was ineffective. I learned there is a more effective way to discipline and change a child’s behavior. Keep reading to find out how!
Before we get to the strategies, we need to talk about why we have the urge to explain every little thing to our kids.
Why do we over-explain?
As a school psychologist and woman, it’s my natural instinct to explain everything with words.
“It’s not nice to take a toy from your brother. How do you think he feels when you don’t share with him? Why do you take the toy as soon as he starts playing with it?”
Nothing is wrong with the statements above, but they aren’t effective in stopping the negative behavior and getting your child to listen!
Here is another example, my son asks for a snack for the 20th time, and I tell him, “No honey, it’s not snack time right now.” He continues to bug me for a snack.
Instead of explaining why he can’t have a snack, I need to set a firm boundary instead of going on and on. For example, “Mommy said no.” I’ve even heard people say “Asked and answered,” meaning their decision hasn’t changed.
When it comes to correcting behavior, excessive talking is not the answer.
So What Can We Do Instead of Talking?
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When our kids were young, our pediatrician recommended the book 1-2-3 Magic to us, and we were amazed at how effective it was to count to 3 and use a take 5 break as a form of correction.
Correcting Behavior: Is Less More?
It’s so simple! 1-2-3. I know, it sounds crazy. How could counting possibly work better than explaining to your kids what you want them to do?
As a side note, this is not a sponsored post. We found this helpful book as parents and want to share our personal insight as well.
I believe part of the reason this method works is because it eliminates the chance to argue or debate the answer. It’s a clear way to set a boundary without fuss. And kids thrive when the boundaries are straightforward.
So when my son started bugging me about the snack, and I already said no, I started counting, “1.”
It takes a little time for your child to understand what’s happening, but eventually, with practice, they get it.
Since implementing the strategies from this book, we’ve had so much less arguing!
When we use the 1-2-3 method, I’ve found our house is calmer, there is more joy, and our kids know what to expect when it comes to correction.
I still find moments to teach our kids social emotional skills using my words, but in the heat of the moment, I’ve noticed using fewer words is best for our family.
Test it out, and see what happens when you use fewer words in the heat of the moment. I also highly recommend reading 1-2-3 Magic. There is no arguing, yelling, or spanking involved.
Lastly, I want to encourage you. Parenting isn’t easy, and there is always something we could be doing better. But I like to think of it as a journey. We won’t be perfect parents, and that’s okay. Perfection isn’t required. It is valuable to stay teachable and learn along the way, making the best of each moment.