I am a huge fan of helpful phrases and this is one of the best. If you need a go to reaction to prevent yourself from overreacting, this is the one!
A big round bite mark with red welts and some blood.
That’s what one of my sons did to his brother.
Normally, at this point, I would have been This Close to losing it. Or saying something like, “Great! I’m raising a sociopath” then struggling to rein in my emotions so I could handle the situation. Instead of those decisions – that I needed to make spur of the moment – I fell back on my new favorite parenting phrase…
Yes. It’s that simple and so effective and I like to say it with a singsong voice. That seems to work best.
Why “Uh Oh” Works Wonders
It may feel cheesy to use at first, but trust me your kids will notice your pivot in response.
You have an automatic response
This is especially important if you tend to fly off the handle easily. I’m speaking to you Type A moms (of which I am one). We can find it hard to get a grip on our emotions enough to respond calmly and without giving dirty looks or overreacting.
If your child does something disobedient, potentially harmful, or just makes a “bad choice” then use “uh oh.” Said with a singsong voice this communicates to your child that something Not So Good has happened. That they are likely going to receive a consequence and there’ll be a reckoning. The good part? It communicates this without you having to give the Mom Glare or do any threatening.
It is sing songy
When our children do things that aren’t so good, we can tend to get mad. Take it personal. Google “signs your toddler is a sociopath.” These things happen. Instead of reacting too strictly or strongly or doling out a consequence that is too severe, this sing songy phrase will give you a chance to get calm again.
If our kids do something for the 1,355,533rd billionth time that day it can be nearly impossible to keep calm. This phrase helps you be a more calm mom and not a mom who is always triggered and angry.
It prevents you from lecturing
Lectures (a) do not work, (2) annoy everyone, and (d) make your voice background noise. “Uh oh” communicates more than two minutes of talk will do. Of course we need to explain to our kids about what we expect from them and why, but sometimes Less is More.
I have a son who is very emotional and easily feels rejected. He can handle consequences, but does not handle severe emotions well. If we’re angry (even rightly so), frustrated, or harsh he folds in. “Uh oh” has helped our relationship (yes it has!) because I’m able to say “uh oh” then get ahold of myself before responding to him in a way that he doesn’t cope with.
It gives you time to think
Every home has boundaries, or a lack of boundaries. We likely have certain consequences we will turn to for certain actions. Certain behaviors will have the same consequences so there isn’t much to think about in the moment, we can simply enact the consequence. However, kids will always throw us for a loop.
There’s a first time for everything, and your children will likely find all manner of naughty things to do that require a response from you. Using “uh oh” in those moments gives you space to think. It may prevent you from saying bad words or something unhelpful and mean as a slip. By using this phrase you’re letting your child know what they did was not okay, but you are giving yourself a bit of time to recuperate.
Back to that biting incident…
After I said “uh oh” to my son he ran away. That is something we struggle with as well. As I turned to comfort my son with the bite mark, the offender returned with two flowers and a big apology for his brother.
It didn’t erase the bite marks… but it was a start.
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Want some Helpful Phrases Printables?
Because helpful phrases make life with kids *so much easier* and they work – even science says so! – we have created a book chock full of printables for various situations. Whether it’s mealtime, tantrums, how to listen, bedtime, etc. we’ve got a book full of phrases to help you be the parent you want to be. Check it out here in both digital and paperback.
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- your child will stop throwing tantrums for attention
- you’ll know how to validate and affirm your child’s emotions
- you’ll feel more in control of the atmosphere of your home and will be able to operate out of a place of love, not frustration
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