Not in Our Family, We Don’t!!

By Michael

Don’t you wish there were secret words you could use to get your children to wake up and smell the coffee, or at least notice the crayons that need to be picked up off the carpet?

Wish no more, for I am about to impart to you a sentence that changed my girls’ behavior instantly. Their memory of this phrase is flawed today, as in ‘huh?’ or ‘you said what?’ but trust me, this actually worked.

You’d have to pay millions for this kind of insight with any psychologist or online guru, but here it is, free, and exclusively for you. Are you ready?

Oh, I’m sorry, honey. We don’t do that in our family.

Is Sally lifting up her skirt on the bus? Does Joe Jr. pick his nose during school recitals? Does little Emily eat with her mouth full? Does your husband leave the toi…never mind, wrong blog.

Anyway, it’s just about this simple. Children want to belong and they want to know how to fit into the family sphere. This little invocation lets them know how to fit in and how to be left out, without threats or anger.

I must admit this worked somewhat better on one daughter than on the other, but the differences were largely tied to birth order, not their commitment to family.

One caveat, though. The critical words in this mantra are “we” and “our.” “We don’t do this,” means, “I don’t do it, either.” If I’m picking my nose in public and eating with my mouth full and pulling up my skirt on the bus, I can’t tell Sally that “we” don’t do that in our family.

If I can clean up my act, though, they’ll do the same.

What works for you, moms? How do you change behavior quietly and effectively? Share.

Michael Rosenbaum is 5 Minutes for Parenting’s first dadblogger. He is a business consultant, playwright and author of Your Name Here: Guide to Life.

Michael blogs on life issues at Your Name Here Guide to Life and manages the Adult Conversation discussion group on Linked-In.

12 Responses to Not in Our Family, We Don’t!!
  1. Hannah
    March 23, 2010 | 7:16 pm

    I know I’ve asked them, “Is that kind???” so many times that my son, age 9, sometimes beats me to the punch! “I know, Mom — ‘Is that kind?'”

  2. CH-Proud Mama
    March 24, 2010 | 8:08 am

    Thankfully my four month old son doesn’t understand phrase such as these so I’m curious to know what works for other parents. I’ve always read articles about getting away from the word “no” when telling them not to do something but I don’t want him learning that word yet.

  3. MIche
    March 24, 2010 | 6:19 pm

    Michael-that was such a funny, insightful and delightful post-I LOVED it. Thank you for sharing and welcome as the first dad blogger 🙂

  4. Shiree
    March 24, 2010 | 10:15 pm

    Di you mean, “talk with our mouths full” or are you encouraging your kids to take smaller bites? Just curious? 🙂

  5. Michael
    March 29, 2010 | 5:59 pm

    talk, not eat. Shouldn’t type with my mouth full, either, it seems.

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