Do you feel like your child just doesn’t hear you? Does your child ignore you? Do you feel like there are days when all you do is discipline your child? “Yes, mommy” can change all of that in a matter of days or weeks. You will find yourself disciplining less and your child will be much more compliant and responsive to your instructions. It’s so simple yet so powerful.
“When your child gives back to you a ‘Yes, mom’ an amazing thing happens. Your child hears himself commit to obey. He draws the line in the sand himself. There’s just something about hearing himself agree to something that elicits an internal compulsion for compliance.” (Childwise, p. 123)
Here’s how it works:
- You stand within a few feet of your child and make sure he can hear you.
- Call his name. Don’t say, “William, come to mommy.” Or “William, I’m calling your name.” Just say, “William.”
- Then wait. Some days you might be waiting longer than you think you should, but just wait nonetheless. Don’t repeat his name.
- His response is to say “yes, mommy” and look you in the eye. The eye contact is key.
- Then while he is still looking in your eyes, give your instruction. Don’t let him look away until you have given your complete instruction.
- Have him say “yes, mommy” again to indicate he heard your instruction and that he will comply.
Here’s how the dialog goes in my house:
Me: “William.” (I’ll do this even when we’re in the middle of a conversation, if I want him to pay particular attention to what I am saying.)
William: “Yes, mommy?” and looks me in the eye.
Me: “You need to pick up your toys.”
William: “Yes, mommy!” and he starts picking them up.
Here’s how it works if we forget to call his name:
Me: “William, you need to pick up your toys.”
William: No response.
Me: “William, I said you need to pick up your toys. Now stop playing and start cleaning up.”
William: “But, but mommy, I’m not done yet. I don’t want to pick up my toys.”
Me: “Do I need to take these toys away? If you don’t start putting your toys away right now, I will take them away.”
William: He starts to put them away half-heartedly and with an attitude. The entire process is painful.
If you have a child who consistently ignores you or is generally disobedient, you may be thinking, “Yeah, right. How am I going to get him to say ‘yes, mommy’ if I can’t even get him to wash his hands when I ask him to?” I have been there. Trust me, it works but it takes patience and resolve. Here’s how it works if you are just starting:
Me: “William” while standing right in front of him.
William: No response.
Me: Lift up his chin and look him in the eyes while saying “William, you need to say ‘yes, mommy’ when I call your name.”
William: “Yes, mommy”
Me: “Good job, William! You’re learning to obey mommy!”
You might end it right there without moving on to giving him an instruction he won’t want to obey. Give it a few days’ practice of just saying “yes, mommy” and then you can move on to giving your instructions. You want it to be a positive experience.
Also, in your first few weeks of this, you will want to give your child the benefit of the doubt and find a good time to call his name. Don’t call his name when he’s in the middle of his favorite TV show or completely engaged in an imaginative game. Start at a time when you are sitting down at a meal or reading a book together. Find the lull in your day and do it then.
And balance the negative with the positive. Call your child’s name when you are offering something he wants. Don’t get in the pattern where every time you call his name, he knows you will be asking him to do something he won’t want to do. He will stop responding. Call his name and require him to say “yes, mommy” before you say you are going to the park, offering him a cookie, or giving him a hug. Mix the positive with the negative.
Even if your child is not yet verbal, you can still work on this process. Do as I say above with lifting his chin. Have him look you in the eye and go through the motions. Or if he is walking or crawling and not yet verbal, have him come to you when you call. If he tends to run in the other direction when you call his name, don’t say anything. Just go get him and bring him back to where you were sitting or standing. Then reiterate that he needs to come when you call and look you in the eye.
If you are beginning this with an older child who is regularly out of your sight (maybe 5 and up), have him come to you when you call his name. That eye contact is so important. Although in your first few days and weeks, you will want to go to the room he is in so you know without a doubt that he heard you.
And of course, all of your child’s authority figures will want to do this. “Yes, daddy”, “yes, dad”, “yes, mom”, “yes, grandma” and “yes, grandpa” are appropriate responses.
Above all, be consistent. Your consistency is what will make it work. If you only call his name 5 out of 10 times, he will only respond half the time, if that. Call his name even when you think you shouldn’t have to. It will take practice on your part. Be consistent and give it time and it will make your lives so much more peaceful.