The Louder I Speak, the Less They Hear

By: Lara Winburn

getting kids to listenHave you ever witnessed a conversation between two people that speak different languages, and one of them continues to say the same thing over and over just louder? It is as if increasing their volume will make them bilingual. Lately at my house it appears that my children and I are speaking different languages and all I am doing is getting louder and louder. Perhaps instead I need some version of Parenting Rosetta Stone.

Here is a perfect example of the less-than-perfect nightly occurrence at my house:

Me: “Hey, precious daughter of mine, please go put your pajamas on.” (This is said in my sing song mother-of-the-year voice.)

Daughter dances, plays, skips etc.

Me: “Hey Bud, put your pajamas on.” (This is said in my less sing-song, but still light tone.)

Daughter continues to dance, play, skip etc.

Me: “Pajamas now, please.” (Firm, but friendly, and saying it for what seems like the 3,498th time.)

You know what my daughter is still doing ….

Then I speak my best English in what seems like a very loud, rather harsh voice because surely she just doesn’t understand what I am saying and if I say it louder she will finally get a rough translation of Mommy-Talk to 4-Year-Old Talk.

Me: “PAJAMAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Please.”

I know this is not the answer and I have admitted in the past how tone deaf I try not to be. But seriously, just put on your pajamas. I don’t know about you, but I do not want to be some screechy mommy over something as minimal as pajamas.

Surely, these small people that inhabit our home must just need a translator. Sometimes daddy is an effective translator because he has not repeated himself as many times and he still has a singsong or a joke left in him. Or maybe sometimes I just need to stop, take a breath, count to ten, and refer to my mommy-to-kid translation dictionary that gives me the many tenses to ask for pajamas in their language. And if all else fails I try to remember the wise words of Mary Poppins:

“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun, and – SNAP – the job’s a game!”

Or, as a last resort, but also in the words of Mary Poppins: Try RUM PUNCH.

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