Mom! Mom! Mom!
Copyright © 2011 Tina Feigal
A: First, relax.
Regulating your inner response to this is even more important than getting the kids to stop it. The way you think about something has everything to do with how you receive it, so think of “Mom” as your child attempting to build a bridge to the safety of your attention. Just know that your child’s repeating your name is a signal that you are his or her safe haven. Every child needs one, and it’s fundamentally an honor and a sign of your success that he or she sees you in this light.
AND how do you keep your kids from driving you around the bend with the repetition of your “esteemed title?” Here are seven steps to follow:
1. Get together with the kids when there’s no shouting. Just say, “Do you have a minute to talk about something?”
2. Say, “Thanks for your attention. I just realized that there’s way too much shouting ‘Mom’ going on around here. I know you really want to get me to listen to you, but when you say my name over and over, I don’t want to answer. I want to run away.
3. So let’s think of ways you can get my attention without saying, ‘Mom, Mom, Mom.’ First, let’s work at noticing when I am already talking to someone else or busy on the computer. Those are the times when you’ll need to wait a bit before I can pay attention. So let’s practice noticing when I am not able to talk. (Actually go through the scenario of being on the phone, have the child notice, and then go to the new solution, instead of saying, “Mom, Mom, Mom.” Reward waiting by saying, ‘When you wait for my attention, I feel so grateful, because in just a minute, I’m going to get to really know what you are saying.”) Then ask for the new solutions. “Who has an idea?”
4. Listen carefully to the kids’ answers. They may just have one that works really well for you, and if they do, you have just included the players in the solution, thereby greatly increasing your chances of successfully coming up with an alternative.
5. If the kids have no idea, offer some. Say, “If I name some ideas, will you tell me what you think? And keep in mind we are going to decide on one today.” Then say, “How about thinking ‘Can I solve this problem myself?’ and then trying to do that,” or “How about when you want my attention, you come and gently touch my arm?” or “How about writing down what you want and putting it in front of me if I’m busy with something else?”
6. Once you have decided on new ways of resolving the “Mom, Mom, Mom” issue, write them down. Then tell the kids that you will only be responding to the new ways, and you won’t be responding to their repetition of “Mom.”
7. Thank the kids very much for helping you to resolve this issue. And give heartfelt appreciation every time they use the new techniques.
Here’s to a peaceful existence with your children!