Yakety-Yak!

Yakety-yak! We moms sure love to talk. I sometimes wonder what we sound like to our little children! I wonder, if after the first sentence, they might catch a word here and there but not grasp the whole meaning of what we are trying to communicate. They love us, and they listen attentively at times, but I don’t think they always “get it”!

Eavesdrop with me on this family’s wordy mother. Three-year-old Susie just entered the living room with her bowl of cereal, holding it with both hands, tipping a bit. Mom begins:

“Oh no, Susie! You’ve got to sit at the table with that bowl of Grape Nuts and milk and not come onto the living room carpet because you might spill it and milk is horrible to try to get out of carpet. You’re tipping it now, Susie! Milk can smell really bad if it is spilled in carpet! I’ve told you a hundred times to sit at the table with your food. You are not allowed in here over the carpet with any food. Remember Grandma’s old blue car that accidentally had milk spilled on the floor of the car? It was impossible to get out and always smelled funny. Now Susie, you really need to take that bowl of cereal out of here now.”

Did you stick with Mom’s speech? If so, I am sure your eyes were glazing over, just like Susie’s. She might still be standing—spilling bowl in hand—looking at her mother as she talks, but Susie is probably “lost in space”.

How much more effective to just briefly, kindly, and concisely say: “Susie, go to the table!” Now, that is a clear and simple command that can be followed! And followed-up on!

“Yes” and “no” without elaborate explanations are just right for kids under about 5 years old. Boys, who tend to be less verbal, especially need us to “cut to the chase”. When children get a little older, sometimes they will truly need an explanation. You can tell when the “why?” is defiant (“why can’t I?!) and when it is truly a curious (“why is that?”), needing a brief explanation. But they almost never need a lengthy explanation. I fear we do overkill with our words and explanations.

Perhaps we mothers could do better if we stopped talking so much!

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