directions · language · OBSERVATIONS · slice of life

I’m learning how to tell my toddler something once. And only once.

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Dressed (with wet hair to boot) and reading.

I’ve been repeating directions to Isabelle a lot lately. For instance, “You may clean up your books.” 30 seconds later when nothing has transpired, “Please pick up your books.” A minute later, “Let’s clean up your books.” Ridiculous! This morning I had it with myself and decided that today was going to be the day I’d stop repeating directions and making multiple requests since saying it several times wasn’t working. (After all, I’ve taught fourth and fifth graders! The rule of the game in my classroom was “Listen to instructions the first time they’re given.” That was going to start happening around here too.)

The first test of my new resolve came after a morning shower. I put Isabelle’s diaper on and covered her with Cerave. Once her hair was done it was time to get dressed. I picked out clothes from her room and brought them back to my bedroom. “Let’s get dressed,” I said.

“No!” she uttered. (Can you say toddler?)

“Mommy’s going to put your undershirt on you now.” And I did.

“I’m going to put your shirt on next.” And I did.

“You may stand up so I can put your jeans on,” I commanded. She did. And then she ran across the room sans pants.

“You may come back here to get your jeans on,” I said. And then I stopped and stared at her. She stared back at me from across the room. Don’t say another word, Stacey. Just keep looking at her.

And I did. For two minutes. Those two minutes seemed like two hours as we faced-off.

Every now and then during those two minutes I’d tap the carpet with one finger. Isabelle would look down and do nothing.

Suddenly, she broke my gaze and walked over to me.

I put those jeans on her like it was nobody’s business.

And then she went back to reading her books.

I have no idea what’s next, but I know I’m going to give her a command once. Just once. And wait.

Even though it's still February, I think this is going to be my first slice of life story for the upcoming challenge over at Two Writing Teachers, my other blog I co-author with Ruth Ayres.
Even though it’s still February, I think this is going to be my first slice of life story for the upcoming challenge over at Two Writing Teachers, my other blog I co-author with Ruth Ayres.
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16 thoughts on “I’m learning how to tell my toddler something once. And only once.

    1. @Tara: A few minutes later she threw all of the clothes (that I should’ve hung up) off of the chair in my room and climbed up. She smiled a great big toddler smile of satisfaction. That made me giggle. She is precious even when she’s challenging me.

  1. I can’t believe how big she’s gotten Stacey! I’m going to have to go back and comb through your blog for parenting advice. I’ll have to remember this when Marguerite get’s to that evil genius toddler stage.

  2. Thanks for the reminder, Stacey! We have a Kindergartner and a Preschooler (17 months apart) and I too find myself saying things 3 and 4 times. After teaching all day where I do this too, it’s exhausting. Yet, when I think about the fact that what I’m doing is just enabling them to NOT listen the first time, it shifts the focus of the issue.

    Here’s to saying things once! 🙂

  3. I often find myself wondering why I do things one way at school and another way at home. It’s time to bring it all together! I applaud your patience and resolve! Way to go!

  4. I’m trying to do this with my students. More than halfway through the year, and I’m finding myself asking my high schoolers four or five times to do something! It’s crazy! I’ve started just waiting sometimes, like this, and hoping it will work. I’m so glad you shared that it has worked for you!

  5. Oh, I live this daily too. I don’t have the will power to wait . . . for two. I’m already in a losing battle, but I love your confidence. Stand firm.

    (Actually, I just remembered a recent conversation with my two. I told my girls that “Mommy and Daddy are in charge.” And one of my daughters replied, “No, Mommy is in charge. Not Daddy.” Daddy didn’t like that so much. At least they always give us something to write about and giggle a little.)

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