“My Kids Ignore Me”

“My Kids Ignore Me”

Two weeks ago Brenda joined our Playtime Class upset that her kids ignored her. Individually, they were easy; all three together drove her crazy with their chasing and fighting.

She’d been trying to use How To Talk So Kids Will Listen… (another great program) for a couple of years, but nothing worked for the wildest moments. After learning how to SAY WHAT YOU SEE and add CAN DOs, she shared this:

Peanut Butter Incident
by Brenda (children 4, 7, 9)

7 YO daughter chasing 4 YO son while son screams. I stop both by stepping in and do my best to have NO judgement:

Me: (Matching smiling daughter’s apparent delight) “He is running and screaming, and you are chasing him.”
Daughter: (Face lights up with an even wider smile) “YES! I am going to spread peanut butter on him.” (Shows me her finger with a glob of peanut butter.)
Me: “His scream says that is not ok with him.”
Daughter then tries to smudge the peanut butter on me.
Me: “That is not ok with me. Must be something you can smudge peanut butter on that would be ok with him and me!”
Daughter: “Bread!!”
Me: (Matching daughter’s silliness): “Bread! That is crazy! That is ok with me.”

I got a slice of bread. My daughter smudged the peanut butter on the bread. Everyone went on with their business.

Thank you for the valuable classes.

What a turn around!!! In an afterthought, I had this vision of Brenda’s family instituting a special family game: Peanut Butter Finger Tag. Can’t you just picture them stopping everything when stress builds up and dashing to the back yard for a quick game before dinner, before bath time, on a weekend… whenever she and the kids need a connective release Playful Parenting style? Plus what better way to fill her daughter’s need for power than to use a game she invented to bring the family closer. And what a great opportunity to work together as a family to design rules that work for everyone: Use real peanut butter or pretend? Wipe it only on skin or make special PB T-shirts? Where does the bread come in? What about playing it with friends – check for allergies? So much is possible when you follow a child’s lead.

And a word about Brenda and you: When Brenda shared her peanut butter incident in class, the other parents and I cheered! To tackle one of her hardest moments with such enthusiasm after years of disappointment shows incredible resilience, optimism and determination. This is who you are – reading my posts, taking our classes and watching our videos for nuggets that will prove you are right about parenting – it can be fun, easy and rewarding, and most of all, you can do it! Like Brenda, you make my day!

What successes have you had using Language of Listening? Little or big, rough or polished, I’d love to hear them all!


  1. Kristin |

    Fantastic story. Sandy I love how you can so easily find the fun in this as well, T-shirts for the PB game is awesome! I might have to try it at home with my 5 year old. These stories always inspire me. Thank you for sharing.

    • Parents like you and Brenda inspire me! Let me know how the PB game goes if you try it out.

      • Kristin |

        Ok I’ll let you know how it goes. : -)

  2. This reminds me of the “piggy party” I came up with as an incentive for the kids to use their manners. If they could use their manners for a period of time, they could earn a piggie party–where all (or most of) the rules went out the window!

    I did not have the courage to implement the idea, but my husband did, and I have to say that what ensued was the stuff of legend. They got to throw bread (but not beans), put their feet up on the table, and eat with their mouths full. He made a special menu from our favorite spaghetti western movie, and each kid got to eat out of their own pan of western-style beans.

    It totally freaked me out at first, but was irresistibly fun once I came out of shock. We should have another one of those….

    • Love that, “the stuff of legend.” It really does feel like that to kids on the occasions that we step fully into their world. Thanks!

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