Two Sanity Saving Phrases

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“Huh?” “What did you say?” “I didn’t hear you say that!”  

Sound familiar?  If you have spent any time with children, these responses are probably all too common.

When our oldest child Emma was a toddler, I found myself repeating what I had just said over and over again, driving myself insane. It was starting to wear on me and I was becoming increasingly frustrated.  One day I finally said “What did you hear me say?” and the most phenomenal thing happened: she repeated back to me almost word for word what I had just said. Was is really that simple?
 
Now I use this question daily with our daughters.  It helps me to gauge how much of my instruction they have absorbed.  It has become one of my most valuable tools in becoming the kind of parent I want to be.

Another key phrase I use to help keep me sane as a mother is, “Change your tone please”.  This is especially helpful when children get a bad case of the whines.  Here is a small example:

Child: “Moooooooooooom, IIIIIII’mmmmmmmmm hhhuuuuuuuunngryyyyy!”   

Me: “Change your tone please!”

Child: “Mom, I am hungry.  Would you please get me a snack?”

Me:  “Thank you for changing your tone. Yes, I will get you a snack.”

It sounds so simple, but it really does work.  Just four simple words and it helps remind them how to use manners and that the tone of their voice is not appropriate.  It even works with our two-year-old.

“What did you hear me say?” and “Change your tone please” are great tools to help you be able to keep the lines of communication open and healthy between you and your child, and help you as a mother to stay sane. 

Who doesn’t want that?

“Huh?” “What did you say?” “I didn’t hear you say that!”  

Sound familiar?  If you have spent any time with children, these responses are probably all too common.

When our oldest child Emma was a toddler, I found myself repeating what I had just said over and over again, driving myself insane. It was starting to wear on me and I was becoming increasingly frustrated.  One day I finally said “What did you hear me say?” and the most phenomenal thing happened: she repeated back to me almost word for word what I had just said. Was is really that simple?
 
Now I use this question daily with our daughters.  It helps me to gauge how much of my instruction they have absorbed.  It has become one of my most valuable tools in becoming the kind of parent I want to be.

Another key phrase I use to help keep me sane as a mother is, “Change your tone please”.  This is especially helpful when children get a bad case of the whines.  Here is a small example:

Child: “Moooooooooooom, IIIIIII’mmmmmmmmm hhhuuuuuuuunngryyyyy!”   

Me: “Change your tone please!”

Child: “Mom, I am hungry.  Would you please get me a snack?”

Me:  “Thank you for changing your tone. Yes, I will get you a snack.”

It sounds so simple, but it really does work.  Just four simple words and it helps remind them how to use manners and that the tone of their voice is not appropriate.  It even works with our two-year-old.

“What did you hear me say?” and “Change your tone please” are great tools to help you be able to keep the lines of communication open and healthy between you and your child, and help you as a mother to stay sane. 

Who doesn’t want that?

QUESTION:  What are some ways that you have found to make yourself clear to your children?

CHALLENGE:  Next time you feel yourself going insane, ask yourself if maybe there is a different way to approach the situation.  Is there another way of saying what your children need to hear?

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Comments

  1. says

    Submitted on 4-18-2010 at 05:16pm
    I love the idea of asking our kids what they actually heard. I can’t wait to try this and can see how it would illiminate lots of frustration (for mum and kids :)

    We say something similar to your ‘change your tone please’. When our kids whine or say things inappropriately (unkind to each other or rude to my husband or I etc) we ask them to ‘try that again please’. Sometimes we have to ask them this question a few times in a row, but eventually they get it right. I can’t remember where I originally heard this but I love that it gives them the opportunity to think about how they’re speaking and behaving and decide what they have to change about it.

  2. says

    Submitted on 4-17-2010 at 11:31am
    Thanks for writing these ideas, Pamela! I think that all of us need some specific phrases to say, and specific ways to counteract whining, misbehavior, etc. When you’re in the midst of it, sometimes all you want to do is get mad, but that never does any good. When I can reach back into my “Mommy Tool Box” and figure out the right way to deal with the problem, I feel so much happier, my children behave better, and at the end of the day, our family works. Anyone reading this…please consider adding more of your ideas!

  3. Mindy says

    Submitted on 4-16-2010 at 03:42pm
    Great advice! I am going to try this out tonight!

    I do something similar with my teenagers when they start sounding a bit disrespectful or sassy when they are talking to me. I tell them to “back up and try it again.” They know that means I want to hear what they are saying, but they need to say it nicer. Works really good!

  4. Allyson Reynolds says

    Submitted on 4-15-2010 at 11:51pm
    Thanks, Pamela! I’ll be using both of those phrases in the very near future I’m sure. It’s so much more effective than, “Stop whining” or “Don’t you ever listen to me?” Way to take control and help your kids at the same time!

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