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Monday, March 23, 2009


Talk Too Much

My kids think I talk too much.

I can't help myself, as rarely a day goes by lately where I don't feel the need to deliver a lecture.

When my son announces that people who like dogs are stupid, I just have to tell him that he lives in a country where 40% of the households include dogs and he shouldn't be so quick to condemn nearly half the population.

And that, of course, leads into a lecture about showing respect toward other people's tastes and hobbies.

And then I tell him how lonely he will be in life if he rejects every person he meets just because they don't have the same likes and dislikes.

The more I've had to discuss an unchanged behavior with my kids, the longer I'll talk. Because it seems like they're just not understanding it in 100 words or less.

Like when my daughter brushes her teeth in 10 seconds each night, even though I've explained to her for years that she needs to say her ABC's twice in order to kill all the "sugar bugs."

Or when my son calls his sister names, even though I've endlessly pointed out to him that he should treat others as he would want to be treated by them.

Since my current strategy of lecturing them into compliance doesn't seem to be working, I need to find a reasonable alternative. I'm not in favor of just looking the other way. I've always felt that silence means approval, and if I let my kids get away with being selfish or sloppy or mean just one time, I'm afraid it will only grow worse.

I would love to stop lecturing so much. If you have something that works for you and your kids, help a dad out and leave a comment!


Blogger Ed said...

I've got nothing. I lecture, but lately it's just me trailing off and mumbling under my breath. My kids have started to glaze over when I speak.

I suppose in the end--it's not so much what we say to our kids but the example we provide with our lives and actions. And they won't get that until much later.

4:30 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

My husband has worked as a camp counselor with boys from age 8 to 15 for the last six years or so, and he's always telling me his secret to success is giving kids choices. He says it can really be applied to anything - i.e. "you can brush your teeth for an extra ten seconds, or you can help me clean the grime from between my toes if you finish up early."

Maybe not quite so gross, but he has always had great success with providing his kids two choices. Inevitably, they pick one (the more desirable of the two) and that's the end of the discussion.

The trick is that you have to follow through with their choice, even if they choose the less desirable, which they often do to spite you. But they also quickly learn that if you follow through, they really end up helping you clean your feet.

6:54 AM  
Blogger brettdl said...

No help, just misery loving company on this issue.

(Choices sound great until you find one sibling walloping the other. Or when you're not around to present it in the form of a choice.)

1:24 PM  
Blogger Idaho Dad said...

I do try to give choices as often as possible. Sometimes you can't, like Brett said, because the kid will throw you for a loop by choosing to stay with the negative activity. "I think I'll just keep hitting my sister with the light saber."

So, I end up saying, "Stop!" and then I end up explaining why he needs to stop, and then I think he's not listening, so in no time at all I'm in full lecture mode.

I think I might have to accept a certain level of rebelliousness that is inevitable in childhood.

4:14 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Hmmm... I'd love to be the wiser older dad with all the answers, but my nearly-adult teens are living proof that 18 years of lecturing didn't do anything but wear out my vocal chords. Of course I have no idea of knowing that if I hadn't lectured them their whole lives they wouldn't be heroin addicts by now. So there's that.

8:29 PM  
Blogger Larry Clemons said...

I think I love you!

OK, maybe I should at least tell you my name first. I am Larry, a stay at home Dad that will begin to home school our two boys this year. They are 7 and 9.

OK, so why did I say I love you ... because you lecture your kids and you are a nerd. At least that was my first impression as I read today's entry, where you stated "40% of the households." You sound so much like me and when I read the entry to my wife she said, "Oh my, there are two of you?"

I will definitely be putting this blog on my daily reading list.



11:05 PM  
Blogger MilkMama said...

My son was a late talker and he's making up for lost time. I doubt he'll be quiet a minute for the next 10 years. Oh, and my husband and I get reprimanded for talking to each other!

10:39 AM  
Blogger KC said...

Real-world consequences! He should tryout his attitudes on the public and not you, then see the response to hating dogs, being rude, etc. He'll maybe take you seriously when he sees nonrelatives shun him for his foolishness.

6:22 AM  
Anonymous Ann Torrence said...

For silly remarks, respond with "Interesting if true" and a homeschooling assignment. How many people own dogs, how many breeds, etc. until he regrets his off-the-cuff nattering.

As for other lecture alternatives, try some street theater. A surprise blast from a squirt gun (or a glass of water on the head) will interrupt some inter-sibling walloping. Clip the plug off the tv if they don't turn it off. Put an "ugly" cap on your son when he starts calling names. What they hate most is you having fun at their expense.

They know your values, now they are just testing limits. Kids also know that words don't matter if actions aren't behind them, so skip the words and move straight to stuff they will remember and laugh about when they are adults.

Good luck to you, we weren't that easy either.

2:55 PM  

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