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Mum! Mum! Mum!

Dear Sue What do I do when my kids shout, “Mum! Mum! Mum! all the time? I’m going crazy with all of this “Mum, Mum, Mum”-ing business! Claire Jones from Chelmsford

First, simply and deliberately RELAX.

Getting back in control of your own inner reaction to this is even more important than getting the kids to stop it. The way you think about something has everything to do with how you perceive it, so think of the word “Mum” as your child trying to reach out to you as you are so important to them instead of seeing it as attention seeking. This helps you to relax. Change your focus into becoming a detective, like Dominic Cumberbatch in Sherlock Holmes, so you can see what’s really going on underneath all the behaviour.

Are you too preoccupied with your new baby, your iphone, the washing, talking to your friend in the school playground……?

Work out what’s underneath the behaviour so you can change what you are currently doing and how you are currently reacting.

Look for possible regular triggers to their constant calling out to you. So, you can pre-empt them.

‘Talk & Teach’ them to how you’d like them to let you know that they’d like to speak to you or play with you, or have your attention in an appropriate way.

Here are some practical tips you stop your kids from driving you around the bend!

  1. Get together with your kids when there’s no shouting out.  Just say, “Do you have a minute to talk about something?” Give them your full attention and make them feel special & say, “I know you really want to get me to listen to you, but when you say my name over and over again, I don’t want to answer. I want to run away. I don’t like it and it makes me cross. So, let’s think of ways you can get my attention without saying, ‘Mum, Mum, Mum.’ Let’s practise noticing when I’m busy or working or already talking to someone else, or busy on the computer. Those are the times when you’ll need to wait a bit before I can pay attention.

Let’s practice noticing when I am not able to talk. (Actually, act out and go through the scenario of being on the phone, putting in the washing, feeding the baby, gardening or whatever scenario works for you, and get your child to notice the signs that you are busy or occupied on something else) and then go to the new solution, instead of saying, “Mum, Mum, Mum” teach them to press their ‘Pause Button’ like on a remote TV control monitor & wait. When they’ve got the hang of it say, ‘When you wait for my attention, I feel so grateful, because I can see that you want me but I don’t feel cross and when I’m ready I’ll come and see what you want”

Then your kids can rush over and press their ‘That Was Easy Button’ to reinforce the positive behaviour.

2. Another way of getting your kids involved in the solution to the problem is by asking them what else they could do to get your attention. Then listen carefully to your kids’ answers. They will feel empowered, heard and listened to. They may come up with a great idea and one that works really well for you all and if they do, you have just included them in the solution, thereby greatly increasing your chances of successfully changing their behaviour.

3. If your kids have no idea, offer some. Say, “If I name some ideas, will you tell me what you think? And keep in mind we are going to decide on one today.” Then say, “How about thinking ‘Can I solve this problem myself?’ and then trying to do that,” or “How about when you want my attention, you come and gently touch my arm?” or “How about writing down what you want and putting it in front of me if I’m busy with something else?”

4. Once you have decided on new ways of resolving the “Mum, Mum, Mum” issue, write them down and get your kids to make posters of the solutions to pop up in the kitchen as a visual reminder for everyone. Then tell your kids that you will only be responding to the new ways, and you won’t be responding to their repetition of “Mum.”

Viola – a happier, calmer household !