How Many Times Do I Have To Say It?

“Put the toy away.”
“Walk in the hallway.”
“Don’t slam the door.”
“Garbage goes in the garbage can.”
“Our hands are not for hitting.  Hitting hurts.”

How many times do I have to say it?  Many, many, sometimes hundreds of times.   Say it simply and kindly….and say it over and over again.

Young children are egocentric.  They see the world from only their point of view.  They will remember what they care about though, when you think about it, that’s true of all of us.  I can attend the same wedding as my husband and come home with different memories of the event.  Some things mattered to me and others mattered to my husband.  Thus, we have two different sets of memories from the same 5 hour span.  Children do not care about walking when they are in a rush to get somewhere.  They do not care about picking up their toys.  They hit to express frustration, and because it is their only way to communicate it.  We are here to teach them about appropriateness in different settings and about being kind, respectful of people & property and how to stay safe. It is our job to repeat ourselves.

“Hold my hand in the parking lot.”
“Don’t push people.”
“Be kind.”
“Don’t knock down the other person’s blocks.”
“Cover your mouth when you cough.”

How many times do I have to say it?  Over and over and over again.  Say it nicely and respectfully to model the respect you want to receive.

One day, one bright shining day, the child will realize that the day goes nicely when he/she makes a right choice.  You don’t know when that day will be and that’s the trick.  You have to say it over and over…until you don’t because you have seen the child do the right thing.  That is a joyous day and should be celebrated.  When the choice is a good one, notice and praise it.  In the meantime, keep saying it and wait for the sun to shine and for birds to sing and for "the day of the right choice" to be today.

“Let me know when you need help.”
“You are a fantastic person.”
“You should be so proud of yourself.”
“I love you.”

How many times do I have to say it?  Always and forever.  Repeating behavioral boundaries will morph and change with age.  Eventually, they will integrate the lessons and be adults who, hopefully, make more good choices than questionable ones.  Repeating their value in your life and in this world is never ending….

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