Every parent has been a victim of the world's most common childhood disease, Selective Hearing. It's been running rampant through our children since time began, but there is a cure for it.
I realized my children had mentally labeled Mom a nag and had stopped reacting to me. They had not stopped listening, they had stopped reacting. "She wants me to put away my sweater, I know cause I heard her ask me, but right now I don't want to stop watching this cartoon. Besides, she wont get mad until she asks me five times, so I have four times to go."
The first job was mine. I had to stop being a nag. That meant I had to stop the casual, "Hang up your sweater please!" over and over while I was really focused on putting away the groceries.
Next step was my job, too. I had to get their attention. I had heard "whisper" from somewhere, tried it, but found that did not fit the bill at the time. Whispering certainly worked later when everyone was fighting and I wanted silence enough to say my piece. In order to get their attention, I had to have my attention on them, and only them. I would have to get up, go over to where they were, get in between them and the television, squat to their level, obtain eye contact and tell them to put away their sweater. In all fairness, I would have to be wise enough to pick a moment when they weren't heavily involved doing something else, maybe after the cartoon was over. I certainly don't like being interrupted in the middle of a phone call or writing a note!
After I got them to look at me without seeing a nag, I started the counting game. If I get to five, mom is going to be really mad. I would tell them to pick up their sweater, walk to the kitchen but stand there to watch and wait. Silently count to ten. Then call out "ONE!" Only one time with each child did we reach five, which incorporated a serious time out, no cartoons, etc. "Yikes, Mom MEANS it, I better move!"
After the verbal counting game worked for a time, it evolved to silent fingers in the air. I may have to still verbally say "ONE!" but by the time I got my second finger up, they were on their way. I will always remember a friend was over, and she had not heard me instruct my child to do something. She was aghast when I put my forefinger in the air and the child did what I had asked, quickly. LOL!!
Recently, my 16 year old teen was feeling a case of Selective Hearing, and for the first time in years, I put my finger up. We both broke out in laughter, but she did clean up her mess. Right away.
Oh, and a side note: Cleaning up properly means I can't tell you were there.
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