As an educator, my biggest pet peeve was repeating myself. My students knew my darkest anger stemmed from them not listening or if they picked on someone in my class. But my biggest explosions happened after days of saying something repeatedly. You’d think that would change after I became a stay at home dad, but I refuse. I’m not big on repetition, and I never will be.
Nerdy teacher time: Repetition is more than just a saying something over and over again. It is a literary device that repeats a word or phrase to make something memorable.
How often we do repeat
My dad loved quoting his Big Mama when I was growing up. I could see the frustration inside of my mom’s eyes when he would repeatedly mention what Big Mama said.
He continued to quote her until one of his girlfriends mentioned how he held onto the past. Thanks, Anna. #youdabest
One of the things I vaguely remember Big Mama saying was ‘If I told you once, I told you twice.’
Alright Big Mama, you got one here.
Kids tend to avoid listening, so parents often practice the art of repetition to help break through the forcefield guarding their ears. Teachers also practice the technique. Some claim that repeating instructions three times helps best of all.
However, constant repetition creates a problem. Kids learn that they don’t have to listen to instruction the first time. Ultimately, they learn to tune us out.
I noticed this to be true with Kairo and Kalel. The boys already have a habit of ignoring my instructions altogether.
Me: Kairo, don’t open the door.
Me: Kairo, come back.
Kairo: [running faster and laughing]
Me: What did I just say?
Me: What did I say about the door?
Me: Don’t open the door. Now, what did I just say about the door.
Kairo: [looking sad] Don’t open it.
It’s easy to assume that my kids heard me. Sometimes they do, and they choose to ignore. But if I said something ten times, they only heard me once.
Because I don’t want them to pick up on the habit of completely ignoring an authoritative voice, I’m throwing out repetition and training their ears.
How to dispose of repetition
I may be a rookie parent, but I’m a professional teacher. I’ve taught every grade except 10th and 11th. And over the years, I’ve learned THE STARE and THE SNAP.
After I provide instruction, if I have the child’s attention, I don’t repeat myself. I fold my arms and stare menacingly. In my head, I’m dying to laugh, but they don’t know this.
Kairo: Can I watch?
Kairo: Can I watch please?
Me: What did I just say?
Kairo: I just want one episode.
Out of habit, I would continue to repeat myself ten times or ‘explode.’ Now, I’m practicing my teaching skills.
Me: [folds arm and glares]
Kairo: Please, daddy!
I always hated, during my administration or teacher reviews, when people would say, “You did great, but snapping at the kids is a bit rude. It’s like treating them like dogs.”
NO! I’ve met TONS of dog owners in my life, and I’ve never met one that snaps at animals. In fact, I’ve met several people that treat their dogs better than I treat my kids.
I snap. Deal with it.
Having an immediate sound to access helps create a new habit. The kids have developed habits that ignore my voice because they hear me speaking all day. However, three consecutive snaps are abnormal, and they cause their brains to register “this is a command.”
It sounds like I’m talking about a dog, I know. Works, though.
I’ve only been practicing this at home for a few days, and I’m already starting to see change. Kairo is arguing less and throwing fewer fits. He has always been a well-behaved kid, but because I’m more patient and discerning, I see fewer and shorter tantrums.
Repetition is a bad habit to start and one that is nearly impossible to break in middle school. My students that were the most receptive in the classroom had the strictest parents. In short, I’ve learned from the best.