No, I’m not talking high fructose corn syrup; I’m talking about behaviors my husband and I have “banned” from our household. Most of them are specific actions that represent some larger behavior that we want to minimize. Sure, our kids are going to commit many of these just like most kids, but these are the types of behaviors that will land them in “big trouble” around these parts. And I guess they are kind of weird when I think about it…
1. Crossing arms
The banning of crossing arms has become such an incidental part of our family culture that our sons gasped in amazement when our two-year-old daughter tried it out recently. We don’t like “sassy” behavior, and I can’t stand the typical phrases that seem to automatically accompany the gesture, so we banned the gesture entirely. A first offense lands you immediately in time-out, a pretty serious sentence around here.
2. The phrase “No fair!”
Ugh, this one drives me insane. Not only is life not fair, but this phrase typically goes with one kid comparing something he got to something his sibling got that he thinks outnumbered/out-portioned his. It’s the 4-letter “F-word” in our house. The consequence for this one? You lose some–if not all–of whatever portion you had before–no matter how small you thought it was in comparison. Oh, you’re upset that your brother got more popcorn? Now you lose half of your popcorn. Appreciate what you have. The only reason you should be looking at someone else’s plate is to make sure that person has something to eat, not to compare portion sizes.
3. Hanging your head
This is Pouting 101. I don’t mind if you get upset about something, but if you ask me whether or not we can do something, and the answer happens to be no for legitimate reasons, the last thing I want to see is you hanging your head. You can pout … just not, you know, visibly. Take that to your room.
4. Saying “Never” or “Always”
Ok, this one may just be the linguistic purist in me, but I really can’t stand these words. I’m very aware of my own use of them, which I try to avoid in any sort of dispute, so I’m probably just hyper-aware of them. The truth is that no one “always” or “never” anything. It’s not even the words themselves that bother me as much as their usual context of just not getting your way: “We never get to go to the pool!” False. We went Wednesday. Chill out.
5. Saying “but” to a grown-up
This one is a bit tricky. We’re trying to avoid the talking-back aspect that usually happens around the use of this word: “Can we go play outside?” “No, it’s about to rain.” “But it’s not raining right now!” I’m not going to change my mind–now I’m just more frustrated. I have made it clear that they are entitled to disagree with an adult (adults aren’t always right just because they’re older), but they can always find some other way to word it if they’re tempted to use “but.” When they were younger, it was easier for them to cut out the word to avoid the talking back that may have landed them in trouble. Now that they’re older, they certainly have a better understanding of different uses and contexts of the word (without the whiny tone!)
6. Claiming to want something from a commercial
Advertisers unapologetically target kids, and parents usually feel this the most around the holidays. My oldest once asked for the most ridiculous, uncharacteristic toy for Christmas, and when I asked him why he wanted it or how he found out about it, sure enough–some commercial. We already see so few commercials, thanks to DVR, Netflix, and internet streaming, but the kids now know that just because we see something on TV, that doesn’t mean we suddenly need or want it. We’ve had a lot of discussions about outside influence and peer pressure around this idea, and never have I been more grateful for this weird ban than during the fidget spinner craze of 2017! Neither of my boys seemed remotely interested (one said the noises annoyed him) and even repeated some of the mantras we’ve used in our commercial conversations. You shouldn’t suddenly “want” something just because you see someone else with it.
Even though we had to more directly ban some of these with our first child and even when all three were younger, the reasons behind them have become part of our household culture.
I wouldn’t answer if my kids tugged on my shirt or body. Usually I was ignoring them anyway because they were interrupting.
So if they tugged it took longer for me to give them attention. I’d verbalize “if you tug at me it will take much longer”. They learned to just stay close
Proximity and be patient for their turn.
Agree with number 6 wholeheartedly. The others, though seemingly logical choices, are behavior modifiers. IMHO, in the long run your kids will be very frustrated pre-teens if you don’t allow them to express frustration and work through it. At your kids ages, it is worth it to take the extra time to explain WHY you disagree with them. Then use the ” no arguing ” rule.
I have 3 adult “kids”who are successful, respectful and independent. The only things I banned were the words: duh, stupid and retarded. Oh, and, “not fair” just became a joke. As in…”there’s only one fair. It comes once a year and sets up on Airline Hwy.”
When I think back to those early years, I didn’t argue with mine very often at all. If I said “no” to a request I usually followed it with an alternative. And, when I said yes, I pointed out that whatever it was that they wanted to do, see or buy was a great idea on their part.
All moms have to develop their own parenting style. I respect yours and wish you all the best.
Oh, and btw, you taught my daughter and she loved your class.
Den, your line about the fair: i’m stealing it! ?
I do agree about the behavior modifiers point too. We have to address and respect the feeling even if we don’t appreciate the lack of tact used in expressing it.
Totally with the author on the use of “but” though! When I say no, no means no. That’s one of our hard and fast rules. we allow healthy debate but not when it comes to privileges that require permission.
Thank you so much for your comment and the opportunity to clarify. When our kids were younger, my husband and I would tell them not to “talk back,” but they didn’t fully understand and thought that meant they shouldn’t respond. Quite the opposite! We welcome any and all responses, just not whining if/when we’ve already addressed their questions with an explanation.
We noticed a trend in the whining that we wanted to avoid–that it typically (I won’t say “always”) started with “but…!” Again, this was usually if they asked a question and got a response they didn’t want. As I wrote in another post (https://redstickmom.com/no-to-because-i-said-so/), we tend to err on the side of over-explaining.
I assure you that they very articulately express frustration (and any other feeling or thought, often bordering on TMI!). They started to understand the different contexts of “but” around 5 and use it now with us often without the whine that they had used when they were younger.
While I hope they won’t be frustrated pre-teens, there’s never a guarantee. As you pointed out, my hubby and I work with teens, so we get the benefit of seeing that frustration and work to avoid it.
Thank you again!
We banned the words stupid and “I can’t” also “I’m bored” to which I reply – you’re not bored, your brain is tired. Figure something out. We are also not allowed to act like a victim. Get out of your own way.
I am absolutely with you on the victim perspective! Problem solve. Find a way to adapt, compromise, or just give yourself a break to sort it out.
There is no room for “bored” in our home (2 under 7). There are legos, art supplies, and a big, safe yard with bikes, scooters, insects, birds to watch, and play equipment. If those fail, ask how you can help out with a project like dinner, a sorting job, etc. I laid this on pretty thick at the beginning of the summer. My children haven’t used the word “bored” in weeks.
I cross my arms when I’m cold or feeling uncertain. Just a thought.
The version we ban is the one that accompanies the “harrumph!” reaction, usually in some response to an answer they aren’t happy with.
We don’t allow the crossed arms or stomping feet, especially towards an adult. We also don’t throw fits or speak to momma or daddy “that way”. We’ve never really defined what “that way” is, but they definitely know what we mean. You can feel those big feelings, but we use our words, not our bodies to express them. We work a lot on how to communicate how we’re feeling and why we feel that way in ways that other people can understand and respond to. I am more than happy to listen and talk to my kids about why they’re made or upset and work towards a solution whenever possible, but I will not be yelled at or spoken to in a disrespectful manner.
I’m sorry to say this, but you do not give your children enough freedom. Number 5: just because you are older than your children doesn’t mean you are always right about everything, that kids do not have the right to refute a statement you make. Also number 2… of course the world isn’t always fair, but shouldn’t kids be allowed to fight for their rights and voice their opinion if they think something isn’t fair? Also, why would arm crossing be an offense? The gesture of arm crossing could indicate a person`s feelings of being not open to communication, being tired, sad, or feeling uncomfortable. Instead of discouraging the behavior you should ask your child what she is feeling and understand what is causing this gesture instead of giving her a punishment for expressing herself through body language. Also, banning people from saying never or always is an odd rule. Never and always are just figures of speech. You can be purist about it yourself but never enforce that on someone else. Do not treat your children like you are their boss… Treat them more as your equal instead. Do not keep enforcing your own values on your children, for your children’s sake.
Danny, I hope poor Megan never has to teach your children. Sounds like you are rearing every teacher’s nightmare – the child who think it’s ok to argue with every decision the teacher makes, who pouts when she doesn’t get her way, who is rude and disrespectful to not only the teacher but also to her classmates.
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