Clinica Sierra Vista WIC

"Don't make me repeat myself!"


Your child is misbehaving…again! You decide to use the same "effective" method you have always utilized and you start talking…again! Your child looks at you like you have lobsters coming out of your ears and your child keeps right on doing what she was doing BEFORE you even said anything. You glare at your daughter, and she glares back. You say to her, "DON'T MAKE ME REPEAT MYSELF!" Don't make me repeat myself! Don't make me repeat myself? How is that going to happen? Do you have a pull string on your back? Your child has control of the PLAY button? Your child is a bit too young to have that much leverage on an adult. And, in fact, it can be downright scary for a child to think that she does. Your measure of effectiveness as a parent is calculated by your level of success. Look at what you are accomplishing. Is it enough? Are you happy with the results, day after day? Is your child complying all the time now? If not, something is wrong and it may be because you say, "Don't…make…me…repeat…myself."

Your attempt at disciplining your child is becoming less and less effective, solely because you do not clearly understand just how it is your child thinks. You can be at work, walk up to someone and give a message. That person will most likely hear you, but it depends on HOW you say it that will make the person believe you or not. Children are the same way; only they test you more openly on whether you mean what you say or not. Take for instance the parent who while talking on the phone, is being terrorized by her child: MOMMY, MOMMY, MOMMY, I WANT SOMEHING TO EAT! The child will just not quit. The mother will most likely pause in her conversation and mention to the child: You cannot interrupt me, Tommy! Do not do that again! But, in fact, he did interrupt you; or rather you interrupted yourself and blamed it on him, all the while giving him attention for that misbehavior.

You may not interrupt me again! What does that really mean? How does a child do that, interrupt you? It seems that we are the ones that stop what we are doing to tell the child we are not going to "talk" to him. But he knows better, because you just did! Same thing happens at school when a child misbehaves; the teacher writes his name on the board or gives him a SAD FACE, and so we allow the child to interrupt the entire class. "Go write your name on the board, Tommy," directs the teacher and then Tommy gets his fifteen seconds of glory; "HEY LOOK AT ME!" he is thinking and celebrates in the attention he receives. Our backward approach at trying to direct our children's behavior falters and fails each time we are attentive to behaviors we do not wish to see again, and your child knows this better than you! You are the reason that your child acts like he does. You are the one who responds to these behaviors. You can stop responding to these behaviors and they WILL go away.

Placing a child in time out is like giving a bank robber the money. Scolding a child is like offering a beer to an alcoholic. We offer these antiquated behaviors because we have seen them used, but may have never really considered the fact they are ineffective measures. They are ineffective because they do not halt the behaviors, rather they encourage them. Two things must change here. ONE: You must agree to only be verbally or physically attentive to your child's GOOD behaviors, ignoring all else. TWO: You must be a good role model. Your behavior means everything to your child. Eventually, we all become our parents, because we watched them for so long, everyday, for eighteen years. We had to have learned something from them, and most likely everything. Subsequently, we may be employing behavioral tactics that are no longer useful. Remember the phrase: JUST WAIT UNTIL YOUR FATHER GETS HOME bit? That phrase did not change a child's behavior. Children continued to misbehave. A child's behavior is a result of being responded to, over and over, by another person, a parent or teacher. If you want your children to behave differently, you must behave differently, and better, FIRST. So this accusation/statement, "…Don't make me repeat myself," is no longer useful. It is outdated. Take responsibility for yourself as a parent. Stop blaming what you do on your child. You chose to do it and you alone, it is your brain. Then, you can take responsibility for your behavior, decide if you want to respond to this behavior by your child ("Do I want to see this behavior again?") and model appropriate behavior around the home; patience, kindness, courtesy, and warmth.

You can change your child's behavior through changing yours first. Focus upon good behaviors only. Then will be no more: Don't…Make…Me…Repeat…Myself.

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