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.