Stop the Repeating Merry-Go-Round

Stop the Repeating Merry-Go-Round April 5, 2019

Are you tired of repeating yourself when giving instructions to your children or teens?

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Maybe you can relate to this mother’s question:

When I am telling my children to do or not do something, I have to repeat it many times. I have to raise my voice, but I hate to scream. Or when I tell my 7-year-old son to do something, he would repeat after me with making faces. Or when I tell them to stop saying words that he does not supposed to say, he would repeat them. I was trying to use a block system for consequences. It works temporary, but next day everything starts over again. I have 4-years-old daughter, so of course she starts to repeat his behavior. I am just very frustrated.

It’s frustrating when you are constantly saying the same thing over and over again…and as your frustration rises, so does your voice. And then you are caught in a vicious cycle of your kids not paying attention until you yell, you feel bad about the yelling, then it all happens again in a few minutes or hours.

But there is hope! You can break the cycle and restore peace to your home. It will take work, and patience. If you really are ready to make a change, here’s what you do.

Stop repeating yourself. It’s really that simple with one small caveat: You make sure the child is next to you, you call his or her name before giving the instruction, then you give the instruction clearly. (That’s Alpha Speech’s Short and Sweet Principle at work: The fewer words a parent uses when giving instructions or conveying expectations, the more likely it is that the child will obey.)

Then you do not repeat yourself, even if the child does not do what you tell him to do. I would use the ticket system and have only one target behavior–obeying immediately when Mom gives an instruction. You can find an explanation for tickets in the discipline section of this website. Start with five tickets for each child.

You will have to retrain yourself to stop repeating and train your children to listen to you because everyone has fallen into this bad habit. It will take a couple of weeks to get things back on track, and things are likely to get worse before they get better.

While you’re working on this, you let the faces and the eye rolls and the “tone” slide–you are laser-focusing solely on getting your kids to listen and obey the first time you give an instruction. Don’t get sidetracked by the attitude junk. Yes, having the right attitude is important, but all too often, we parents get hung up on the attitude and don’t pay attention to the actual underlying misbehavior (in this case, the disobedience/not listening).

And finally, expect that your kids will NOT listen. In other words, fully expect that they will be disobedient. When they are, they lose a ticket. So already, you’re ahead of the game–you know exactly what you will do when they misbehave. You will not have to resort to yelling because you already have your plan in place. All you have to do is follow the plan! Easy, yes?


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