STOP! and Other Futile Parent Phrases
Futile parent phrases are everywhere. We say them every day and, yet, they don’t get us anywhere.
I love my children. I really do. My children are four of the greatest things that have ever happened to me. On the other hand, they also make me want to slap my forehead and wonder why I even try.
I find myself saying the same things over and over and over again. At what point do I realize that I’m just not getting through to them? You would think that I’d try something new. I sometimes throw a few different phrases in the mix but, inevitably, I fall back on the old standard phrases.
I’ve heard other parents saying the same things so it’s not only me. If you find yourself saying these phrases, you are not alone.
The insanity of it all has even made me wonder if my children actually speak a different language or maybe I speak a different language. The reason being, when I speak to them, they look at me like I muttered gibberish. However, I have evidence that suggests otherwise because when I ask them if they’d like a piece of candy, miraculously, their hearing and ability to obey works perfectly.
Here are my top 5 futile parent phrases. Pretty sure I used at least three of them already today.
1. Come Here
This one can be met with any number of incorrect responses, none of which end with them coming to you as you asked. My favorite/most annoying is when I say it to my 4-year-old and he turns and runs the other way. The absolute worst thing you can do in this situation is laugh. I made that rookie mistake with my oldest and it took years for her to stop thinking we were playing a game every time we left the house.
Another great response is when they act like they can’t hear you at all. They keep playing, reading, singing or doing whatever it is they were doing when you asked them to “come here”. Then you say it louder. When you get no reaction, you start to wonder if your child is hard of hearing so you say it even louder. At which point, they look very offended and ask why you are yelling.
Now that my kids are a little older I get the almost response. I’ll ask them to “come here”. They will either A) ask why, to which I always give the very grown up and emotionally mature response of ‘because I told you to’, or B) they’ll take one step forward or, as in the case of my youngest, roll, crawl, or walk on their knees.
The funny thing is, parents don’t like to yell. I’ve read all kinds of articles and blog posts on not yelling at your kids. So when you ask them to “come here” a lot of times its so you don’t have to yell from one end of the house to the other.
Yet after I’ve repeated myself 3 or 4 times and they are still “coming” one step/roll/crabwalk/army crawl at a time, I lose it. Then they stand in front of me and wonder why I’m mad at them.
2. Stop ______
You can fill in the blank with any number of useful words – hitting, yelling, scratching, poking, sitting on your brother. You get the idea. I have decided that somewhere deep in a child’s brain there must be a place that, when it hears the word “stop”, it actually makes the child move faster.
“Stop throwing rocks!” in the child’s brain actually means, “Throw the rocks faster!” So when I ask one of them to stop eating all the chips I shouldn’t be surprised when they shovel as many chips in their mouth as they can before I grab the bag.
“Stop yelling at your sister,” actually means keep yelling until mom gets close enough to grab you both and pull you apart. Even then the yelling will probably continue.
3. Don’t Touch
When you tell your child “don’t touch” what you are really saying is – pick up, feel, taste, and maybe even throw whatever delicate object you have in your hands.
There is nothing like stepping into someone’s house and having your child make a direct line to the priceless family heirloom. You don’t want to startle your child because they might drop it. All you can think about is getting that object out of their chubby little hands.
Once you say “don’t touch” you might as well paint that object red and put a great big flashing sign that says PLAY WITH ME above it. As soon as something is forbidden, you can bet that that is the one thing your child is going to want more than anything.
4. Shhhh…. or Be Quiet
Oh, how I wish my kids came with a remote control so I could turn down the volume. Not all the time. I don’t mind normal children noise but there are times when it is not appropriate. For example…church.
For example, at church I will ask my children to be quiet. They’ll pause, look at me, and continue as though I’ve said nothing. Finally, I sit between them so they can’t speak to each other in loud tones. The next thing I know they are fighting with each other with me in the middle, which means they are talking even louder.
My favorite is when kids are getting potty trained and announce to everyone that they have to go to the bathroom while also specifying whether or not it is #1 or #2. Nice. Now I totally understand that kids have no concept of their own volume for years. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to try to have them whisper when it’s appropriate.
5. Hurry Up!
You might as well say, “slow down”. Children do not do well with hurrying. I have one child that will still be getting ready while the rest of us are sitting in the car waiting. When I say, “hurry” this child always says, “I am.”
Getting out the door with kids takes some planning. I usually try to let my kids know when they should start getting ready to leave but that doesn’t always work. I can’t seem to resist asking them to hurry. Maybe if I tell them to slow down it will have the opposite effect and we’ll all get out the door on time?
There you go. Futile parent phrases that don’t work. In fact, they are so bad at working that they usually elicit the opposite response of the one you want.
Crazy, adorable kids.
If you have other futile parent phrases you can’t stop saying, please leave them for me in the comments.