“How many times do I have to tell you?” asks just about every parent.
Sometimes the answer is silence.  This means, when interpreted by those who’ve established a system of respect in the household, the kids know you’re on your last nerve and their best bet is to keep their mouths shut.
Often times an answer comes forth from a mouthy young-un who hasn’t been taught to adhere to a collection of holy principles that should be established by every parent.
“How many times do I have to tell you?“  “I didn’t hear you before,” answers the 5-year-old.
“What are you talking about?” answers the 12-year-old.
“Maybe three more times telling me and I might get it done!” answers the out-of-control teenager.
Note: the disrespectful verbiage increases with the years.
Here’s the deal on this over-used rhetorical phrase – don’t ever allow the kids to give an answer- once you do, they’ve grabbed the upper-hand and they’re on their way to becoming the smart-mouth out-of-control teenager.
Our last nerve drives us to ask that question.  At 5 years old, let’s help the youngsters by simply telling them how many times we’ve already said  whatever it is.  And then get the kid to count – one, two, three and four.
Announce then, “And how many times did I have to tell you?”  Remind them  number ONE is the magic number.
Nip the behavior of a mouthy teenager in the bud back when they’re just beginning to bloom .

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. -Nate

    Agreed ;

    Rhetorical questions are time wasters , designed to be snarky in the first place so asking one of a Child is telling the Child it’s O.K. to not pay attention or to have a smart mouth .

    I told my Son I’d always give him one chance then I’d lower the boom , the decision was always in his hands and I trusted him to make the right choice .

    It didn’t matter if a trivial or serious matter , I was always clear with what I wanted and expected of him and he knew there would always be consequences as I never , _ever_ failed to follow up .

    His Mother , OTOH , always let him slide when he was little then complained bitterly as he grew up ” why does he always listen to you but never to me ? ” .

    It’s the same now with our Teenaged Foster Boys ~ one who really had the devil of a time came by to visit us recently , he’s doing well and surprised me when he said ” I love you Nate ” ~ I asked him what that was all about and he said ” everyone else called me stupid or bad , shifless and worse , you always took the time to explain how and why you felt I could do better and in the end , I did , thank you ” .

    Wow .

    Children always push boundaries so don’t get upset , instead make them toe the line then spoil the when they do .

    ” Toe The Line , Feel The Freedom ” has always been my motto .


  2. Jean C. Troy

    How many times have I used this phrase, I laugh at the thought. My Kids took the high road and quickly followed my instructions. I didn’t have to say anything else because the look on my face told them I was at the end of my rope. They knew better than to push farther since then they would also have the wrath of Dad. so the chore was done with little or no further comments. I guess I’m what is called an “Old School Mom” where talking back was not allowed unless someone was dying, I loved my children and they loved me, very little corporal punishment was used though to hear my daughter they were threatened at all times. I agree that some of the new ways to control and develop children are better for their growth and development, but when all else fails we need to remember we Moms are human too.

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