Do the very thing you ask of them

by Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

As you start this week, think about that thing you keep harping on your kids. You know, that one issue that keeps cropping up about their character—not complaining, saying please and thank you, having patience when things don’t go their way, using their inside voice inside.

And dare yourself to focus on the same thing in your own life.

Right now, our kids are working on not interrupting. We noticed that they are continually blurting out their thoughts without listening first whether someone is already talking, thus creating quite the cacophony at home. I can barely finish one sentence to Kyle without hearing the sound of “Mom, mom, mom, mom” emanating about two feet below my ears.

So we’re having the kids really notice their habit of talking out of place, putting the virtue of not interrupting to the front burner of their minds.

But the humbling thing is how much I’ve now noticed this own tendency in my life.


It’s not bad, but it’s there. I start talking to Kyle before the three-year-old finishes his thought, even though I know what he’s going to say. I accidentally listen to the kid who’s loudest, instead of the one who came to me first. I even interrupt them with my own thoughts, spacing out and saying “mm-hmm” at the right parts of their monologue, instead of really giving them my full attention. I’m interrupting them.

Asking them to work on not interrupting has made me ask myself to work on the very same thing. Parenting is funny like that.

So this week, when you give your kids guidance and direction, pause and ask yourself whether you could use the same wisdom. Model for your kids the behavior you’d like to see in them. Work on your character together—show them that you’re not perfect, but that you care enough about their well-being that you’re willing to work on your own.

As you ask your kids to be teachable this week, ask yourself to be the very same thing.

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  1. I think this means I have to start picking up after myself :)

  2. Like Angela, I believe I’ll have to clean up my room. 😉 Thanks for the reminder that they model what they see and hear.

  3. Surely you don’t mean I’ll have to put one craft away before starting a new one? No Fair! 😉

  4. I went on a retreat this weekend and was doing a little soul searching and I was thinking about how much I expect perfection from my kids. Work hard, clean up after yourselves, don’t lose yourself in outbursts of complete joy inside… use your inside voice. Your post came at a great time, I think my corrections should be limited to important things not reminders of all the nit picking things that like you say… I don’t always follow myself… we’ll see how it goes this week. Thank you

  5. You are so on point. I have been doing this very thing with our children. They are very good and saying “excuse me” and I am getting better at not interrupting them. Great post.

  6. I couldn’t agree more! Great post!

  7. avatar
    kristin watkins says:

    this is great,, and it’s very good for me today ! thank you Tish,,

  8. This is so very true and I’ve caught myself doing what I tell them not to do, yet I push it aside. I’m glad you posted this because I am really going to challenge myself to take notice. My daughter gets chided for complaining, interrupting and yelling but I can’t say I do much better much of the time. Thanks for the wake up call!

  9. What a great reminder and dare I say it, much needed. Thanks!

  10. Very timely advise after another horrific commute to work this morning with two screaming and interrupting, competing preschoolers. I ended up having to raise my voice and interrupt them to ask them to “take turns and to stop screaming.” Wonder where they get it from? :)

  11. For years I used to try to get my kids to pin their socks before throwing them in the hamper. This way they would be sure to get ’em back and I didn’t have to sort and pair. The only one I was successful with was my husband. From the day I asked him to do this about 25 years ago he has done it religiously. I couldn’t understand why my kids weren’t doing it. I finally had an epiphany when I myself only recently started doing it. (after most of my kids are grown of course)

  12. That would me that I need to clean my room!

  13. What a timely post, something I need to work on. I do keep my room clean though so they can’t complain about that when I ask them to clean theirs!

  14. I try to do this (emphasis on the TRY). The areas I struggle with are usually the ones that bug me most in my kids as well.

    But kids can sniff out hypocrisy like NOBODY else. I remember the time 8-year-old me asked my mother “why do I have to clean up my stuff when you never clean up yours?” This just made my mother angrier, of course.

    As an adult, my response to questions like that is “You’re right, honey. It’s not right when I do [objectionable behavior], either. Can you forgive me?” Then… “Let’s both work on this.”

  15. Yes, that’s me all right. The other day I caught myself talking with my MOUTH FULL at the table. What’s worse is that after I realized it, I just went right on talking. Need to stop that. Really. (I’m hoping it’s because after years of eating with kids, I finally caught it from them.)

  16. This is so timely for me! I’ve been really noticing how impatient my 4 year old is when things don’t go her way, yet I am also noticing that same issue in myself. I think seeing patience modeled will help her learn it more than words.

  17. Hubby and I are guilty of this!! I was just thinking about that this weekend! Thanks for the reminder and inspiration to work on it! :)

  18. Have you read the book My Mouth is a Volcano by Julia Cook? Great one about interrupting!

  19. This reminds me of a time in college where I studied abroad in Spain. My Spanish was rather mediocre… A good friend told me to just focus on one grammar issue at a time. If she would be around, she would knock on the table every time she heard me doing it wrong. My progress in Spanish was remarkable. It’s liberating and very satisfying to focus on one thing at a time and see how you (and/or your kids) get better at it. At the same time, my friend, who is Spanish, told me that her own grammar skills actually improved and that she had noticed that she was sometimes too lazy to use the correct form… she was grateful to be reminded since was going to be a teacher :-)

  20. Such a simple, but beautiful, comment.

  21. Such a simple, but beautiful post.

    (Sorry about the typo in my last comment. :) )

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