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October 30, 2010

"Not Nice" is Not Good

I remember my mom saying that she and my dad never really had to discipline me very much when I was growing up. All it took was “The Look” from Mom, or Dad raising one eyebrow (not both), and I turned it around. She said the very worst torture for me was one of them saying, “Mandy, I’m disappointed in you.

I’ve been working to perfect “The Look” for several years now, making faces at myself in the mirror while I dried my hair in the mornings. And I practiced using a good stern tone (which from this point on will be referred to as "The Tone") with our cats.

I guess I was hoping that these foreboding gestures would do the trick with our girls, too…that through some beautiful stroke of luck and heredity, they would be born with naturally obedient hearts.

I’m beginning to have my doubts...

It wasn’t wholly planned, but I’ve adopted the phrase, “That is not nice!” (usually said in “The Tone”, in conjunction with “The Look”). And I’m quite certain that the girls understand what’s “not nice”.

When they see a ripped page in a book, they’ll volunteer, “Not nice!” in a very serious voice (at least as serious as a precious little 21-month old voice can muster).

When they begin to try to pilfer behind the entertainment center (a big no-no), they’ll turn around to me (sometimes mid-pilfer!) and confirm their behavior is “Not nice!” too.

I feel good that I’m delivering a consistent message about what is “not nice” in the world of A and B. What apparently is lacking is a sense that "not nice" is, in fact, not good.

I guess it’s time to put a little muscle (i.e. a timeout structure) behind it.

But I won’t drop “The Look” and “The Tone”…no, I worked too hard in their development not to continue to put them to good use.


Marcia (123 blog) said...

Please, please, please can you do The Look and take a pic :)

Beth said...

So funny! I remember as a child all eight of us kids sat quietly in mass every Sunday. If we started squirming or whispering, we would get "the look." Immediately, we fell back into line. I was so ready to give my kids "the look"!

Well, I have enough kids that I have discovered that two of mine respond pretty quickly to it, two mostly ignore it and, much to my dismay, one is amused by "the look."

I'm with you, I'm not giving up. In time, we will be able to shoot our children a warning look and quickly see changes.

Itinerant Studio/Look Photography said...

Hilarious. And we also had "the look" growing up! My mom was much scarier than my dad. D didn't respond to it at all before she was 5. Now it stops her in her tracks. (well most of the time)
I agree - I think we need photos. (and the recipe for those Halloween butter cookies)

Christina said...

Ha! Yes a pic while your drying your hair! ;)

Our word is "enough!" In "that tone." Sometimes it works, sometimes not. My BF has that "look" that your talking about with her like a charm. Not so much with mine, lol.

reanbean said...

I would love to see "The Look" too. Mine needs a makeover. It's not at all effective with my kids. I often have to threaten time out (and then follow through if the desired behavior is withheld) to make the point that what they're doing needs to stop.

Julia said...

I love this! My 17 year old daughter is the same way as you were Mandy. If you say "I'm disappointed in you" she will start crying. I have been blessed that she has never talked back...she is a great kid! I'm a first grade teacher and I tell my students just like I tell my 17 year old, the look is a friendly reminder that you are doing something that is going to get you in trouble. If the look doesn't work then I use the tone. If the tone doesn't work then timeout is in order. Enjoy them and find what works for your sweet children. :)
-Julie Evans Jackson