Wednesday, July 23, 2008

It’s a Magic Number

Three is a fun age, isn't it? Let's hear it for three. My daughter (an adorable three-year-old) demanded milk this morning. There was no please, no pleasant voice, no question, simply a demand. This might be my most loathed childhood action. I realize that making demands is at the very heart of gaining autonomy but it is the lack of respect that I cannot tolerate. Doesn't, Mommy, can I please have some milk? mean the same thing as, Get me some more milk!? I have zero tolerance for the latter, regardless of whether the child saying it shares my DNA. When my own children make demands such as these I usually respond by refusing to respond. This doesn't always go well. Here's what happened this morning:

Precious Three-Year-Old Daughter: (in a demanding voice) Get me some MILK!

Me: No response

PTYOD: (in a slightly louder demanding voice): Get me some milk Mommy!

Me: No response

PTYOD: (in a loud, shrill, almost unbearable voice): Mommy! Get me some milk! I want milk! Mommy!

Me: No response

PTYOD: (doing her best impression of Axle Rose during that awful scream at the opening of "Welcome to the Jungle"): GET ME SOME MILK! I WANT MORE MILK!

Me: (quiet, calm) I don't respond to requests like that

PTYOD: Mommy, can I please have some more milk?

Me: Sure. I'll get you some

This strategy, although rough on the ol' ear drums, eventually gets me the response I want with my own kids. I don't really feel comfortable using this strategy for kids that are not mine. How do I go about handling these pesky demands in other people's children? Do I ignore them? Submit to their requests? Threaten them with physical violence? What do you do?


  1. I too can not stand for a child to be disrespectful to their "elders". I have no problem asking a child to use their manners, but that is just me. My children know that they won't get far being whiney, rude or disrespectful. Mama don't play that. If I won't tolerate it from my own children, I certainly won't from anyone else's.

  2. Uggghhhh... We are going through this too. After the demand, I say "Excuse me?" Sometimes I get a "please?" but most of the time I have to ask, "What's the nice way to ask?"

  3. I just repeat the request the way I want to hear it and they do the same. We all know my children are perfect though so I never have any problems ;)

  4. I just tell visitors (other kids) that in this house we ask using please or thank you or we don't get what we want. I then wait, and sometimes prompt.
    I also ALWAYS say, 'Thank you for asking so politely every time I hear a request that uses the word, please'.
    It seems to have worked with my trio....just not with the hubby!

  5. Our Grandkids never use that tone with us, and, I usually just tell outsiders that "I'm the Stranger your Mother warned you about, now, run like Hell before I bury you in the woods with the other rude little urchins." (are you buying into any of this?)

  6. Leanne: Good idea!! We'll have to try that too.
    Also lately our kids have been saying "I want..." so I usually come back, "I want, I want, I want" or say something like "ok". After that, they say, "I want... please." That still doesn't fly with me. I usually have to say, "Mommy may I please have ...?" and that usually works.

  7. Until I hear the word "please" accompanying a request, it falls on deaf ears. They both autocorrect the second time around usually.

  8. I try to do as you do J. The demands are typically from the LR when I'm in the office or kitchen, if it persists for a bit, I go in there and lean down to the child and say "I will not accept how you are asking me, if you want something you come to me and ask nicely". This usually works.
    Now for other children, I really haven't been around that much. If it is Trey's cousin he is usually will ask really nicely as he has had an intensive training from his private Baptist school he went to on manners.
    I grew up being taught to say please and thank you, my husband grew up saying yes mam and no mam, yes sir, and so on. That is how Trey's cousin does. I like that a lot.
    Hey Candice,
    Are we considered "elders"? Ha!