Story: A mom with 2 kids is standing on the beach yelling as her kids run in and out of the approaching surf. The kids would run after the retreating surf and Mom would yell, “Move back! Don’t get wet, you have your dinner clothes on! Don’t make me say it again!” as the surf roared back in. This happened about 15 times, truly 15 times.
Problem: Mom took no action.
I could see the kids roll their eyes and shut their ears. They knew mom was all talk and no action.
What if mom had said this instead, “I see that no one is listening to me, so it’s time to go.”
Yes, mom would have to ignore all pleas for one more chance, and ignore all the “Mom is mean” comments.
When you respond you’re more able to ignore the plea for one more chance and the snarky comments because you know that those things are a child’s way of saying, “I don’t like this, but I’m learning what you want me to learn.”
If Mom addresses the plea for one more chance, or focuses on the “she’s mean” the kids don’t get to learn that Mom means business when she makes a request because the focus has shifted from the primary lesson to the rude behavior, which as I pointed out is child speak for “I don’t like it, but I’m learning from it.”
If Mom is really bothered by hearing, “Mom is mean” then she can address it another time.
This 2nd scenario is responding, not reacting.
Mom is quickly responding to the behavior that occurred before she made the statment “It’s time to leave.” and is ignoring everything that comes after she annouces “It’s time to leave.” There is no need for anger, no need for consquences, in fact Mom is wise enough to add empathy to her statement to further underscore that the kids made the choice not to listen, and it’s her job as a Mom to do something about that. If they want to be mad, they need to look at who caused this, not who corrected it.
Mom may have said, ” I know you don’t want to leave the beach, neither do I. But I need you to listen to me, and you didn’t, so we have to leave. I’m as sad as you are!”
A statement tied to a behavior that isn’t working, followed by calm action, is responding.
Would that work for you? Let me know in comments.