Oh my, are her kids ever talkers!

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  April 9, 2010 06:00 AM

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Barbara, I have an almost 5-year-old daughter and almost 3-year-old twin sons. I am home full-time with them. I work hard at it, and they are generally well-behaved and polite kids. My issue is that they are constantly talking at me. They all talk at the same time and over each other. We will need to leave the house and I will say something like "Please go get your shoes, we are going to Grammy's house." Most times, all three of them will start talking at me instead of going to get their shoes. They'll ask why we are going, who is going to be there, if we have to take the highway, and on and on. The questions are incessant. Most of the time they already know the answers to the questions they are asking.

All meals take forever, because they talk constantly and don't focus on eating. I try to go around in a circle and let each of them tell something, and then tell them, "now it is time to stop talking and eat," but they don't seem to get it. They take their turn and then continue to talk when they are supposed to be eating...

Getting them dressed and to brush their teeth takes forever. They talk and talk and talk. Getting them to pick-up toys...they will pick up one thing, and then talk and talk and talk....I repeat myself so many times just to try to get them to complete tasks.

I want to be able to get through our daily routine without so much background noise. I have no idea how to get them to just do what I ask without all the talking. It's not necessarily back talk, it's just unnecessary and drains our time and my energy. Any suggestions?

Thank you.

From: Jenn, Nashua, NH

(Editor's Note: This letter was condensed)

Hi Jenn,

This is all about wanting your attention. How does it feel to be so popular?!

What each child wants is your undivided attention and, because they are so close in age, they have limited ways to get it. They are also smart enough to know how to vie for it: talk to mommy!

Yes, this will change as they move on to new stages of development. Here's what to do in the meantime: (1) Don't ask more from them than they can deliver and ask for only one thing at a time. "Please get your shoes." "Why?" "When you bring your shoes, I will tell you."

(2) If they start to talk at you, or get side-tracked by their talking, turn your back, walk away, be silent. Don't respond. Be calm, matter-of-fact, and unperturbed.  If you don't respond, they have no incentive to keep talking. But every time you repeat yourself, you are re-engaging with them. That may not be your intention, but that's how they see it. You unwittingly reinforce the talking.

You don't want to discourage them from talking. This has become a comfortable dynamic for the three of them. In fact, I bet it's downright fun! (And I don't mean that in a mean or manipulative way.) It's just how they relate to each other and to you, and this will turn out to be a strength for each down the road. They also are creating a dynamic among them that will likely last a lifetime.

On the other hand, believe me when I say I understand that it can get to be just so much "noise" for you.  The trick for you is to find a way to tolerate it without feeding into it.

Tell them, "Get the job done, then we can talk." Make a game of it: zip your lips and turn away with a smile and a twinkle in your eye. They will get the message!

 

I answer a question from a reader every weekday. If you want help with
some aspect of child-rearing, just write to me here.


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23 comments so far...
  1. I just thought I'd say that as I read this letter while I drank my coffee this morning, I was laughing and laughing. Kids can really drive us nuts! I think Barbara's advice is great. My Mom tells me to enjoy the chatter while I can, because they get quieter just when you want to talk with them more. ;)

    Posted by RH April 9, 10 07:54 AM
  1. I am fond of saying that my eldest started talking in full sentences at 15 months, and hasn't stopped yet. I hear you. Sometimes, I think they would talk to the table if no one else was available. You just need to sometimes fall silent and wait for them to run out of steam...

    Posted by bms April 9, 10 08:50 AM
  1. I like the note at the bottom about how the letter is condensed. Seems like the LW just wouldn't stop talking!

    Posted by Dad April 9, 10 09:17 AM
  1. This letter made me laugh for two reasons: 1. we have this same problem at our house, which often ends with parents being done with dinner while kids have half full plates from being so busy chattering and 2. the LW seems to be quite chatty herself!

    I KNOW this is frustrating, but I'd rather have chatters than kids who don't share anything with us or with each other.

    Posted by anita April 9, 10 09:22 AM
  1. Anyone else amused by the fact that the letter had to be condensed because it was too wordy? Maybe we have an apple/tree issue here.

    Posted by Bob April 9, 10 09:37 AM
  1. I don't mean to be insensitive, but I couldn't help but laugh too. I feel for the writer. It can get so annoying when kids are going, going, going. I thought to myself this morning, "raising kids is like swimming upstream." The energy it takes, and the the energy it takes on top of that not to hit the roof somedays is infinite.
    I wish I knew how to get them to stop talking for you. Maybe if the escape is all in your head. Just find away to mentally detach and be somewhere peaceful while they are jibber-jabbering.

    Posted by lala April 9, 10 09:46 AM
  1. Wow, I have a 4 1/2 year old son that can never stop talking. It's adorable most times and interesting but when I need him to brush his teeth or get ready for school or bed and the talking prevents him from doing that it sure is frustrating!
    I think I must engage him without intending to. Thanks for this info. I'm going to try to just not respond though when I do that at times I am faced with the "mom?" "mom?" "what's wrong mom?" "why aren't you talking to me mom?"
    I just try to remember that when he hits his teen years I'll be begging for a complete sentence out of him.

    Posted by enolamr April 9, 10 10:05 AM
  1. I know it can be frustrating but they do sound like happy little kids to me. I would rather hear all that back groundchatter and happy chattering dinners than silent ones. My kids are all school age, one left going to kindergarten in the fall. I will miss hearing all that chatter when they are off at school. Just try to enjoy it while it lasts! Hopefully they will continue to "chatter" as they get older - you will be surprised what can come out of their mouths, the jokes, the sarcasm and even the problems they are facing...all of it is great practice for later! You will want to know what is going on with them then for sure!

    Posted by acmebun April 9, 10 10:28 AM
  1. Ah -- you've brought back memories of having a three-year-old chatterbox in the house. I don't think there is much you can do about it, except to wait for when they are teens and then selectively remember it as the cutest thing ever.

    Sounds like there are really two issue -- getting the kids to do what you have asked of them in a reasonable amount of time, and the chatter, which may or may not be related to "getting the job done." I'd focus on the former, and maybe if they can learn to get ready to go out, pick up toys, etc. more promptly the chatter will feel less irritating. After all, some jobs, like picking up toys, are much more pleasant if done while having a conversation. Perhaps at least the the oldest could help decide which tasks can be done while talking and which (like tooth brushing) really can't.

    Soon the kids will all be old enough to enjoy conversation with each other. Maybe you could help this day arrive by redirecting a few of the questions that come to you to the other siblings. ("Gee, I don't know what Grammy is planning for dinner. Why don't you ask your brothers what they think it will be?")

    I can only think that in a few years it will be a blast to play "only questions" or "apples to apples" or other thinking-talking games at your house. Hang in there!

    Posted by gastrogal April 9, 10 11:21 AM
  1. You can't win them all, but...mealtimes are a place to start. Put out a big timer set for 30 minutes. When it rings, take the food off the table. No argument, no long winded warnings, just say that lunchtime and suppertime are for eating.

    You could also set a timer for 30 minutes once a day with the rule that ONLY ONE TALKS AT A TIME. This is going to help them at school more than you can imagine.

    And you can start making "20 questions" a game. The kids will think better if they have to count their points.

    If you take a positive proactive attitude to these limits, the kids will not be repressed, just slightly channeled into better habits.

    Posted by Irene April 9, 10 11:22 AM
  1. I second Irene's idea about mealtimes. We actually use that trick ourselves, for our 10 year old who has never outgrown the chatty stage -- he talks so much he would not finish his supper. We'd be at the table an hour or more. So, we set a timer. Dinner is 30 minutes long. We did not institute it in any punitive way -- just matter of factly, with an explanation for him (as he is 10 and can understand) that because he gets side-tracked with his great stories, he forgets to eat, and this will help remind him. It really worked.

    Posted by jlen April 9, 10 12:08 PM
  1. Wow I look at this letter and think how selfish this mother is. Does she realize how blessed she is to have these sweet children. She is the one that wanted them. Does she realize how many other mothers out there would love to hear the sounds of children talking or a mother who has lost a child like I have who would give anything just to hear their child talk again???? Tell her just to enjoy their chatter and deal with it because once they grow up and they move out she won't hear those beautifuls sounds again.

    Posted by Terri April 9, 10 12:46 PM
  1. Bob - I thought the same thing!

    I have a girlfriend who has a 5 year old son who talks constantly AT THE TOP OF HIS VOICE (no, he doesn't have a hearing issue). If she tries the method Barbara suggested, he just gets louder and LOUDER. If she doesn't acknowledge him it turns into a temper tantrum. So I wonder if there is a different method for him? After a weekend trip there my husband and I are more than ready to escape to the quiet of our car!

    One of the issues they are having is that their 3 year old doesn't talk at all, pretty much. They are looking into language acquisition issues, but I wonder if part of it is he just isn't willing to compete with his brother, and he never has to answer questions because his brother answers for him even when prompted by the parents not to.

    As a child who barely talked to her mother growing up, however, I can see preferring a child like this to one who doesn't share anything. :)

    Posted by poppy609 April 9, 10 12:49 PM
  1. Jenn, I hear your pain, I have the same issues, twins and a singleton. I think that part of the problem is that you are not getting enough mental stimulation from their incessant talking, and when you do get to talk it is to them, about them with nothing that really excites you. I try to play games with my kids: let's see who can keep quiet the longest. Or make it a competition to see who can pick up the most toys the quickest, with the winner getting some alone/special time with mom. Alternatively get one of the staples red buttons, and when you push the button everyone has to keep quiet. Another thing I do is have "talking toy," I give each kid a chance to hold the toy, and while they are holding it they can talk and everyone else has to keep quiet. Also, when they ask the million and one questions, just turn it back on them and say, well, what do you think? Or why don't you ask your brother/sister what the answer is. Get them talking to each other! Lastly, just turn your back on them, get a cup of coffee and hang out in the bathroom by yourself for a couple of minutes, making sure that they are safely in the playroom. One more thing, let them know that you are leaving in 5 minutes and that they should have their coats and shoes on. If they are not ready, just leave in whatever state they are in, and put the coats and shoes in a bag and bring along. They will either get cold and get it done next time, or adjust. Either way they will be fine. Good luck.

    Posted by Jodi April 9, 10 02:06 PM
  1. Lots of good advice here, and I hope some of it works. Meanwhile, I would start looking at some good law schools.

    Posted by easydoesit2 April 9, 10 02:22 PM
  1. They talk because you let them. Stop.
    Tell them, "it's my turn to talk and your turn to listen." Repeat until they catch on. At meals, use a talking stick or some other object. Whoever is holding it can speak. The others have the privilege of listening. This will teach them that each person's words are valuable.

    It sounds cute when they are this age, but if talking is a competition to be heard, they will never learn to respect one another.

    Posted by Ashley April 9, 10 02:27 PM
  1. Well, I won't say that the LW is selfish! Maybe as someone who just needs a little perspective from others. Though there are so many parents who have children with disabilities say like severe autism or other things, where the child doesn't talk at all and isn't aware of his/her social ques and whatnot. Just try to think of it this way, you are a very lucky, wonderful mom who has children that do not have disabilities and interact with you, love to be with you. There are many families out there that wish they had chatterboxes for children. Consider yourself very fortunate to have that! Enjoy it, they may not talk to you like that when they get to be teens!!!

    Posted by jadee April 9, 10 02:53 PM
  1. Wow, Terri, how horrible for you to have lost a child, but how very insensitive your comments were. Yes, children are blessings, but they are people and I don't know of any people that are perfect or without their annoyances. You can feel blessed and still be annoyed at the same time. This column is for advice. I struggled with having children and lost 3 to miscarriages, but as much as I love the children I was able to have, they can be challenging and its not selfish to be overwhelmed with their behavior and complain at times. My mother passed away much too early, also, and I loved her dearly, but she was still at times frustrating. It was ok for me to be upset with her at times and seek support or vent. Its called being human. I feel a bit of your pain but please, have some compassion.

    Posted by tccmom April 9, 10 02:55 PM
  1. what about singing? this is a way for them to use their voices, but all at the same time and maybe get something accomplished. it won't work for dinner, but i guarantee it will work for cleanup "hi ho, hi ho, its off to work we go" or "lets see if you can all get your shoes and be back here in the time it takes to sing twinkle twinkle little star - ready go" and just start singing, most likely they will join in singing with you as they do it - and then its a contest against the song, not against each other.

    Posted by oreo24 April 9, 10 03:06 PM
  1. I was thinking this morning about something similar. I have a daughtor and then twin girls and admit I get overwhelmed with the noise and chaos that happens, especially when trying to do something that needs to be done or get ready to go somewhere. Just this morning I was driving to work trying to figure out how I can get my 8 year old twins to get ready for school without me literally standing over them and cracking the whip every two minutes. They can both tell time and know when the bus comes but somehow seem to get distracted by each other and EVERYTHING they come in contact with. I wonder if I should just let them miss the bus a few times to see if they get a better understanding of why they need to remain more focused in the morning but then I am skeptical of this even making a difference and think that I will just end up driving them to school when I need to be going to work (making me late) - so who would anyone benefit from this?? I hate repeating myself over and over, day after day knowing that I sound like an oger but when I am stressed/rushed for time it is difficult to think of anything but the fact that we need to get going/get our stuff done so that we can catch the bus, get to the birthday party on time, get to CCD, etc. So many of the mothers seem to make it sound so easy to deal with, so why does it feel so elusive to others?? Rationally what they say makes sense and is something I know but when in the midst of the chaos it is not always easy to see this in the same light.

    Posted by de... April 9, 10 03:13 PM
  1. When my children used to all talk at once at dinner, I brought out the conversation spoon. It was a wooden spoon and only the one who was holding it could talk. When you finished what you had to say, you passed the spoon to someone else. This taught them to take turns in the converation. I didn't have the 'all talking and no eating problem,' but perhaps you could add a caveat - when Mom has the spoon, everyone has to eat. After they've had a few bites, pass the spoon to start the conversation again.

    Posted by kmd123 April 9, 10 03:19 PM
  1. I don't think we should minimize her frustration by saying that she should consider herself lucky to even have kids or whatever. My kids can be overwhelmingly talkative at times. It can make for a very frustrating mealtime or interaction. And I mean *very* frustrating. It doesn't mean I'm not grateful that I have them, it just means I wish they would learn to talk in turn, and we are working on that by emphasizing when it's someone's *turn* to talk.

    I like kmd123's suggestion. I think I'm going to hold the spoon for the whole dinner, though!

    Posted by suz April 9, 10 03:52 PM
  1. The friend of poppy609 has a common problem. Talking incessantly is certainly a more placid way of competing with siblings than fighting.It's no less harmful to the younger child's self-esteem. Of course the silent younger child has the vocabulary, but not the reason to use it at home. What a shame.

    It occurred to me in mid-day that LISTENING is the skill missing from the letter writer's household. Music was the way that my mother dealt with five kids born in a span of 7 years. She sang to us, and played the violin or mandolin when she could catch a few minutes, and she had peace and quiet for an hour after that.

    And I wonder how much one-on-one time the letter writer's kids get with dad--especially the twins.

    Posted by Irene April 9, 10 05:18 PM
 
23 comments so far...
  1. I just thought I'd say that as I read this letter while I drank my coffee this morning, I was laughing and laughing. Kids can really drive us nuts! I think Barbara's advice is great. My Mom tells me to enjoy the chatter while I can, because they get quieter just when you want to talk with them more. ;)

    Posted by RH April 9, 10 07:54 AM
  1. I am fond of saying that my eldest started talking in full sentences at 15 months, and hasn't stopped yet. I hear you. Sometimes, I think they would talk to the table if no one else was available. You just need to sometimes fall silent and wait for them to run out of steam...

    Posted by bms April 9, 10 08:50 AM
  1. I like the note at the bottom about how the letter is condensed. Seems like the LW just wouldn't stop talking!

    Posted by Dad April 9, 10 09:17 AM
  1. This letter made me laugh for two reasons: 1. we have this same problem at our house, which often ends with parents being done with dinner while kids have half full plates from being so busy chattering and 2. the LW seems to be quite chatty herself!

    I KNOW this is frustrating, but I'd rather have chatters than kids who don't share anything with us or with each other.

    Posted by anita April 9, 10 09:22 AM
  1. Anyone else amused by the fact that the letter had to be condensed because it was too wordy? Maybe we have an apple/tree issue here.

    Posted by Bob April 9, 10 09:37 AM
  1. I don't mean to be insensitive, but I couldn't help but laugh too. I feel for the writer. It can get so annoying when kids are going, going, going. I thought to myself this morning, "raising kids is like swimming upstream." The energy it takes, and the the energy it takes on top of that not to hit the roof somedays is infinite.
    I wish I knew how to get them to stop talking for you. Maybe if the escape is all in your head. Just find away to mentally detach and be somewhere peaceful while they are jibber-jabbering.

    Posted by lala April 9, 10 09:46 AM
  1. Wow, I have a 4 1/2 year old son that can never stop talking. It's adorable most times and interesting but when I need him to brush his teeth or get ready for school or bed and the talking prevents him from doing that it sure is frustrating!
    I think I must engage him without intending to. Thanks for this info. I'm going to try to just not respond though when I do that at times I am faced with the "mom?" "mom?" "what's wrong mom?" "why aren't you talking to me mom?"
    I just try to remember that when he hits his teen years I'll be begging for a complete sentence out of him.

    Posted by enolamr April 9, 10 10:05 AM
  1. I know it can be frustrating but they do sound like happy little kids to me. I would rather hear all that back groundchatter and happy chattering dinners than silent ones. My kids are all school age, one left going to kindergarten in the fall. I will miss hearing all that chatter when they are off at school. Just try to enjoy it while it lasts! Hopefully they will continue to "chatter" as they get older - you will be surprised what can come out of their mouths, the jokes, the sarcasm and even the problems they are facing...all of it is great practice for later! You will want to know what is going on with them then for sure!

    Posted by acmebun April 9, 10 10:28 AM
  1. Ah -- you've brought back memories of having a three-year-old chatterbox in the house. I don't think there is much you can do about it, except to wait for when they are teens and then selectively remember it as the cutest thing ever.

    Sounds like there are really two issue -- getting the kids to do what you have asked of them in a reasonable amount of time, and the chatter, which may or may not be related to "getting the job done." I'd focus on the former, and maybe if they can learn to get ready to go out, pick up toys, etc. more promptly the chatter will feel less irritating. After all, some jobs, like picking up toys, are much more pleasant if done while having a conversation. Perhaps at least the the oldest could help decide which tasks can be done while talking and which (like tooth brushing) really can't.

    Soon the kids will all be old enough to enjoy conversation with each other. Maybe you could help this day arrive by redirecting a few of the questions that come to you to the other siblings. ("Gee, I don't know what Grammy is planning for dinner. Why don't you ask your brothers what they think it will be?")

    I can only think that in a few years it will be a blast to play "only questions" or "apples to apples" or other thinking-talking games at your house. Hang in there!

    Posted by gastrogal April 9, 10 11:21 AM
  1. You can't win them all, but...mealtimes are a place to start. Put out a big timer set for 30 minutes. When it rings, take the food off the table. No argument, no long winded warnings, just say that lunchtime and suppertime are for eating.

    You could also set a timer for 30 minutes once a day with the rule that ONLY ONE TALKS AT A TIME. This is going to help them at school more than you can imagine.

    And you can start making "20 questions" a game. The kids will think better if they have to count their points.

    If you take a positive proactive attitude to these limits, the kids will not be repressed, just slightly channeled into better habits.

    Posted by Irene April 9, 10 11:22 AM
  1. I second Irene's idea about mealtimes. We actually use that trick ourselves, for our 10 year old who has never outgrown the chatty stage -- he talks so much he would not finish his supper. We'd be at the table an hour or more. So, we set a timer. Dinner is 30 minutes long. We did not institute it in any punitive way -- just matter of factly, with an explanation for him (as he is 10 and can understand) that because he gets side-tracked with his great stories, he forgets to eat, and this will help remind him. It really worked.

    Posted by jlen April 9, 10 12:08 PM
  1. Wow I look at this letter and think how selfish this mother is. Does she realize how blessed she is to have these sweet children. She is the one that wanted them. Does she realize how many other mothers out there would love to hear the sounds of children talking or a mother who has lost a child like I have who would give anything just to hear their child talk again???? Tell her just to enjoy their chatter and deal with it because once they grow up and they move out she won't hear those beautifuls sounds again.

    Posted by Terri April 9, 10 12:46 PM
  1. Bob - I thought the same thing!

    I have a girlfriend who has a 5 year old son who talks constantly AT THE TOP OF HIS VOICE (no, he doesn't have a hearing issue). If she tries the method Barbara suggested, he just gets louder and LOUDER. If she doesn't acknowledge him it turns into a temper tantrum. So I wonder if there is a different method for him? After a weekend trip there my husband and I are more than ready to escape to the quiet of our car!

    One of the issues they are having is that their 3 year old doesn't talk at all, pretty much. They are looking into language acquisition issues, but I wonder if part of it is he just isn't willing to compete with his brother, and he never has to answer questions because his brother answers for him even when prompted by the parents not to.

    As a child who barely talked to her mother growing up, however, I can see preferring a child like this to one who doesn't share anything. :)

    Posted by poppy609 April 9, 10 12:49 PM
  1. Jenn, I hear your pain, I have the same issues, twins and a singleton. I think that part of the problem is that you are not getting enough mental stimulation from their incessant talking, and when you do get to talk it is to them, about them with nothing that really excites you. I try to play games with my kids: let's see who can keep quiet the longest. Or make it a competition to see who can pick up the most toys the quickest, with the winner getting some alone/special time with mom. Alternatively get one of the staples red buttons, and when you push the button everyone has to keep quiet. Another thing I do is have "talking toy," I give each kid a chance to hold the toy, and while they are holding it they can talk and everyone else has to keep quiet. Also, when they ask the million and one questions, just turn it back on them and say, well, what do you think? Or why don't you ask your brother/sister what the answer is. Get them talking to each other! Lastly, just turn your back on them, get a cup of coffee and hang out in the bathroom by yourself for a couple of minutes, making sure that they are safely in the playroom. One more thing, let them know that you are leaving in 5 minutes and that they should have their coats and shoes on. If they are not ready, just leave in whatever state they are in, and put the coats and shoes in a bag and bring along. They will either get cold and get it done next time, or adjust. Either way they will be fine. Good luck.

    Posted by Jodi April 9, 10 02:06 PM
  1. Lots of good advice here, and I hope some of it works. Meanwhile, I would start looking at some good law schools.

    Posted by easydoesit2 April 9, 10 02:22 PM
  1. They talk because you let them. Stop.
    Tell them, "it's my turn to talk and your turn to listen." Repeat until they catch on. At meals, use a talking stick or some other object. Whoever is holding it can speak. The others have the privilege of listening. This will teach them that each person's words are valuable.

    It sounds cute when they are this age, but if talking is a competition to be heard, they will never learn to respect one another.

    Posted by Ashley April 9, 10 02:27 PM
  1. Well, I won't say that the LW is selfish! Maybe as someone who just needs a little perspective from others. Though there are so many parents who have children with disabilities say like severe autism or other things, where the child doesn't talk at all and isn't aware of his/her social ques and whatnot. Just try to think of it this way, you are a very lucky, wonderful mom who has children that do not have disabilities and interact with you, love to be with you. There are many families out there that wish they had chatterboxes for children. Consider yourself very fortunate to have that! Enjoy it, they may not talk to you like that when they get to be teens!!!

    Posted by jadee April 9, 10 02:53 PM
  1. Wow, Terri, how horrible for you to have lost a child, but how very insensitive your comments were. Yes, children are blessings, but they are people and I don't know of any people that are perfect or without their annoyances. You can feel blessed and still be annoyed at the same time. This column is for advice. I struggled with having children and lost 3 to miscarriages, but as much as I love the children I was able to have, they can be challenging and its not selfish to be overwhelmed with their behavior and complain at times. My mother passed away much too early, also, and I loved her dearly, but she was still at times frustrating. It was ok for me to be upset with her at times and seek support or vent. Its called being human. I feel a bit of your pain but please, have some compassion.

    Posted by tccmom April 9, 10 02:55 PM
  1. what about singing? this is a way for them to use their voices, but all at the same time and maybe get something accomplished. it won't work for dinner, but i guarantee it will work for cleanup "hi ho, hi ho, its off to work we go" or "lets see if you can all get your shoes and be back here in the time it takes to sing twinkle twinkle little star - ready go" and just start singing, most likely they will join in singing with you as they do it - and then its a contest against the song, not against each other.

    Posted by oreo24 April 9, 10 03:06 PM
  1. I was thinking this morning about something similar. I have a daughtor and then twin girls and admit I get overwhelmed with the noise and chaos that happens, especially when trying to do something that needs to be done or get ready to go somewhere. Just this morning I was driving to work trying to figure out how I can get my 8 year old twins to get ready for school without me literally standing over them and cracking the whip every two minutes. They can both tell time and know when the bus comes but somehow seem to get distracted by each other and EVERYTHING they come in contact with. I wonder if I should just let them miss the bus a few times to see if they get a better understanding of why they need to remain more focused in the morning but then I am skeptical of this even making a difference and think that I will just end up driving them to school when I need to be going to work (making me late) - so who would anyone benefit from this?? I hate repeating myself over and over, day after day knowing that I sound like an oger but when I am stressed/rushed for time it is difficult to think of anything but the fact that we need to get going/get our stuff done so that we can catch the bus, get to the birthday party on time, get to CCD, etc. So many of the mothers seem to make it sound so easy to deal with, so why does it feel so elusive to others?? Rationally what they say makes sense and is something I know but when in the midst of the chaos it is not always easy to see this in the same light.

    Posted by de... April 9, 10 03:13 PM
  1. When my children used to all talk at once at dinner, I brought out the conversation spoon. It was a wooden spoon and only the one who was holding it could talk. When you finished what you had to say, you passed the spoon to someone else. This taught them to take turns in the converation. I didn't have the 'all talking and no eating problem,' but perhaps you could add a caveat - when Mom has the spoon, everyone has to eat. After they've had a few bites, pass the spoon to start the conversation again.

    Posted by kmd123 April 9, 10 03:19 PM
  1. I don't think we should minimize her frustration by saying that she should consider herself lucky to even have kids or whatever. My kids can be overwhelmingly talkative at times. It can make for a very frustrating mealtime or interaction. And I mean *very* frustrating. It doesn't mean I'm not grateful that I have them, it just means I wish they would learn to talk in turn, and we are working on that by emphasizing when it's someone's *turn* to talk.

    I like kmd123's suggestion. I think I'm going to hold the spoon for the whole dinner, though!

    Posted by suz April 9, 10 03:52 PM
  1. The friend of poppy609 has a common problem. Talking incessantly is certainly a more placid way of competing with siblings than fighting.It's no less harmful to the younger child's self-esteem. Of course the silent younger child has the vocabulary, but not the reason to use it at home. What a shame.

    It occurred to me in mid-day that LISTENING is the skill missing from the letter writer's household. Music was the way that my mother dealt with five kids born in a span of 7 years. She sang to us, and played the violin or mandolin when she could catch a few minutes, and she had peace and quiet for an hour after that.

    And I wonder how much one-on-one time the letter writer's kids get with dad--especially the twins.

    Posted by Irene April 9, 10 05:18 PM
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Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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