The 3-Line Script that Overcomes Every “BUT MOM!”

13 Nov

I came into parenting fully thinking that I don’t owe a child any explanations when it comes to their obedience.  They better execute mission without asking questions.  Actually, I want to see them pop into the position of attention, sound off with a “Yes Ma’am,” and move out smartly to take care of business.

Errr–that’s not really how it usually plays out.  Let me write a skit to illustrate.  The child in the scene will be played by my 7-year-old daughter, Adair.

Me: Adair, it is time for you to turn off the TV.
Adair: (shrill.  screeching.) MOM!!! I don’t want to!  I am watching this show, and it is not over!!!  (Throws remote onto couch pillows, kicks blanket off her legs.)
Me(Huge sigh, blood pressure rises. Voice intensifies.) Don’t talk back to me I don’t care I told you to turn it off so turn it off now before I lose it.
Adair: (sulks. clicks the TV off, makes some weird growling sound, clenches teeth and moans)
Me: Stop whining, now you’re not watching TV the rest of the day!!  (Instantly forget that I said that.)

My little theater of life can produce this embarrassing scene multiple times a day…day after day.  PER KID.  We needed an intervention.  They needed to stop their whining habit; and actually, I needed to be a lot more flexible with my yeses.  I am quick to pop-off a “no” without thinking.  And when they whine, I just trump them with the parent’s wildcard of “because I said so.”  So then I win.  But no one is happy.

Enter the amazing three-sentence “script” for child-to-parent negotiation that has changed everything.  This momhack came from my amazing should-have-a-blog friend Wendy.  She got it from Growing Kids God’s Way…But before giving it public validation, I had to run it through the lab of life a few times.  It’s working. 


When a child would like to appeal for a change of my mind, they may peacefully articulate three sentences:

1. Speak words of total compliance.
This is the first thing every parent wants to hear.

2. Repeat the specifics of the request
Ensure the child heard you/understands what you asked them.

3. Request permission for reconsideration, once.
They may respectfully present to you information for your reconsideration.


 

This formula dispels any hysteria instantly: my heart softens when I hear sentence 1 and sentence 2; sentence 3 ensures the child feels heard, validated.  I get a better picture of the situation, and another go at whether my “no” was too rash.  This is a deposit in the trust bank on both our parts.  After that, my answer is final. 

Read this brilliance in action:

Me: Adair, it is time for you to turn off the TV.
Adair:  
Yes ma’am.  I’ll turn off the TV.  But, I was wondering if I may finish the rest of this show first?
Me: Yes, okay.  You may finish watching the show. -OR- Well, I am sorry but you must turn it off straight away.

 

Obedient words.
Acknowledgment of instructions.
Politely request reconsideration
.  

 

That’s it.  They don’t get to be on step 3 more than one time.  

The key here is that the child must be willing to obey to make an appeal.  For my older ones’ more complicated issues, they might say, “I’m willing to obey, but may I add information you may not have?”  Then they must wait for a yes or no.  If we say yes, they can only add NEW information that may help the parent who gave the instruction.

It can be janky.  At first it feels canned.  I’ll say, “If you are asking me to reconsider, what are the only three sentences you can speak back to me?”  And then they go through the sentences.  Some kids get it down faster than others…but life skills take practice, and repetition is a way to make it a second-nature habit.  

Over time, it’s become more of an organic process–and we can take care of business around here as peacefully as possible.  If this helps even one reader, it is worth posting.  

thanks for reading.
Leigh 


I’ll close with a post-script written by my friend Jewel–mother to 6–just this week:

Perhaps the most difficult Empowered to Connect tool for me to embrace early on was the **art of compromise** with my children. Coming to the understanding that my authority as a parent is NOT undermined if I allow my children to ask for a compromise when they feel they need one. Instead I have learned that encouraging my children to ask for a compromise allows them to respectfully negotiate their needs. What an incredible life skill to have.  


 

Read more:

Getting Enough Me-Time (picture courtesy lineloff.com)

Thriving in Motherhood and other demanding seasons of life

On Waiting

Why I No longer pray for Patience in Parenting

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2 Responses to “The 3-Line Script that Overcomes Every “BUT MOM!””

  1. Laura Carlton November 21, 2017 at 2:02 pm #

    I LOVE this so much. I wish I could start all over again
    As stated somewhere in the post….Brilliant!!!

  2. janawright22 November 21, 2017 at 2:31 pm #

    Oh this is so so good!!!

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