Has this ever happened to you? You are patiently asking your child to do something, like get their shoes on so you can get out the door. You are managing to stay—or at least sound—calm, even though they seem to be ignoring you.
You’re not sure exactly how many times you’ve asked when, finally, your patience wears thin and you find yourself yelling—GET YOUR SHOES ON NOW!—and they (finally) hop to it and start getting their shoes on.
Even though you don’t want to yell, it seems to work when nothing else does, so before long you find yourself yelling more often that you would like. In my parent coaching practice, I call this pattern: ask ask ask…yell. One of my clients calls it: nice Mommy, nice Mommy, nice Mommy…mean Mommy.
So what’s wrong with this pattern, since most likely you don’t yell all the time and it does seem to get the job done? The problem is that, over time, this pattern of communicating is creating a bad habit for both you and your kids (more about habits here).
They are learning that they can ignore you until you yell; or, to put it another way, you only really mean it when you yell. And you are learning from their response to yell in order to get their attention.
What to do instead? Don’t allow ignoring you to be an option or become a habit, which is to say, you must work on creating a new habit for your kids of listening to you. (More on the significance of habits here). Here’s how to ask and what to do next.