When my boys were little, I offered them lengthy explanations about everything. I especially felt the need to explain why they shouldn’t do something. A lot has changed in the past few years. I have become a mom of few words. Mostly words like don’t, stop, shut, and no!
I’m not sure if I have gotten tired of my own voice or if it is the realization that my kids don’t hear past my first word. Either way, I find myself using fewer and fewer words when I talk to them – especially when I am yelling.
I have memories of long ago, hearing my voice calmly and sweetly say, “Boys, Mommy’s head hurts like when you get a boo-boo and it hurts. Well, Mommy’s head feels like it has a boo-boo. I would really appreciate it if you could try to be quiet.” I might get a momentary reprieve but eventually, the volume would again rise.
Soon I heard myself simply saying, “Aaron and Nic, could you please be quiet. Mommy has a headache.” Which became, “Could you please be quiet.”. Which devolved to “Be quiet!” and finally just “Quiet!”
Likewise, I used to offer up long explanations of why they should stop certain behaviors. I had read the books. You know, the ones that say your children are more likely to comply if you calmly explain to them why a behavior is not acceptable and put it in terms they understand. So, I did. “Nic, it is not okay to call your brother a fart head. If you keep calling your brother names, he won’t want to play with you. Then, you would have to play all by yourself. He also might start to call you names back. I don’t think that will make you happy, will it? So, let’s not call each other names because it hurts people’s feelings.”
Apparently, name calling makes children happier than I thought it would. I soon gave up trying to get them to stop. Now, when I walk in on Aaron sitting on Nic’s head and yelling, “Did you smell that one? Who’s the fart head now?” The only words I have are “Stop! Don’t! Mom ANGRY!”
While, I am sure I must sound like a grunting Neanderthal to anyone who is not my children, I know that they understand. It seems the decrease in my verbal communication has ramped up my non-verbal communication. I am finding that a stern, “DON’T!” together with an it would really feel good to hit something look, communicates much more effectively than all the words I have ever used.
So, these days when my boys hear a “DON’T!”, “NO!”, “SHUT!” (I skip the up because who has the time?), “STOP!” and then look into my eyes, they know I mean business. The best part is, I don’t have to hear myself talk.