What happens when they just stop listening?

We’ve hit a snag in the Higgison Home of Laughter and All Things Goodness Related.

Our daughters? They have ceased the listening.

And, to add insult to injury, they have increased the arguing and the sass and the talking back. It’s…exhausting. Just plain exhausting in every way.

I try very hard to see this as a ‘stage’, to employ all resources at my disposal and properly parent my way through this. But I gotta be honest…that shit ain’t flyin anymore. It’s incredibly frustrating to repeat yourself over and over and over again and then to try to talk over a yelling four-year-old without yelling yourself. And the repetition…oh god if that girl says things once she says them twelve times, always rooting around for the answer she’s looking for. It’s all I can do not to just turn around on my heels and slam the door. (which, I may have done on occasion. Shut it.)

I don’t GET IT! We try everything! We talk about feeeeeeelings, we acknowledge their personal struggle, we listen to them, we talk calmly, we explain, we explain, we explain a-fucking-gain-zomg-kid-what-are-you-not-hearing?? It seems like we’re in this frustrating holding pattern of trying to stick to our guns and them pushing back at every turn.

Example. Let’s set the scene: it’s last night at bedtime, we’ve given them a warning that it will be time for bed soon. We’ve done the whole routine- meds, bottles, blankets, pjs, book reading, snuggle time in Daddy’s bed, yadda, yadda, yadda- they settle in. For like 10 milliseconds. Then Bella is up talking about a mystery mosquito bite that no one can find & a weird rash on her shoulders…that somehow hasn’t bothered her until right now. Mae has  come bounding down the stairs and chased the cat into the basement. Nik is crying about…oh, pick something. Ryan gets them all settled again, Bella in her room, the younger two together in our room. All is calm. For like 10 milliseconds. Giggling, yelling, banging on walls- all signs that no sleeping is about to occur.

It’s so…exhausting. It just is.

The constant fighting back and disagreeing just grates at your nerves when it’s gone on for too long. And it’s gone on too long here. Now we anticipate what’s going to happen and we’re barely ever proven wrong. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s a 100% chance that bedtime will never go smoothly from beginning to end. End being: all three fall asleep.

So what’s the answer? Do we put on more resistance? Do we just keep on keeping on, explaining and talking and a few louder-than-usual GOOD NIGHTs? Do we change up a routine, start the process earlier (which really I don’t want to do because then we’d get like 2 hours with them at night and 1 of those is eating dinner)??

I’m asking you, literally. Does this happen in your house? Do you see a pattern with it? Is it just happening with some weird weather or time shift that I’m completely missing? And if you say this is ‘just a phase’ I might junk punch you. I know it is, but how do I get THROUGH it with all my hair still intact is the question.



10 thoughts on “What happens when they just stop listening?

  1. I have NO pro tips, especially since I only have one and he’s younger than your oldest. But, I can share from an outsider what *I* would do: Do all the routine, tuck them in, say goodnight, LOCK THE DOOR. It seems like they want to engage you in conversation and attention using whatever complaints are necessary, so what I could do would be to not participate. It’s bedtime, no talking, no discussing, no explaining. Hug and tuck. They may totally flip, but it sounds like maybe they don’t think you’re serious about it? (And if you think this is a terrible idea ignore me, again, no experience here besides watching super nanny. We’re not to this phase yet.)

    • You’re pretty spot-on, I think. This is 100% the issue with Annika for sure, probably Bella too now that I think of it. (Bella’s pretty much out for attention from morning to night) My mom used to say that when I was younger I would do this exact thing- I’d have to come downstairs with at least one story & then I went to bed. Bella does this. Annika fights it a little harder. Maybe we can try this with her. Hug & tuck. Boom. (thanks lady!)

      • yep – welcome to years of our life with you!!!!!
        Although you do have it times three – by your choice.
        We just go to bed with them at our house!!!! hahahahahahahaha

  2. First, you are lucky if you’ve made it this far with them listening. Day care had the perfect term – NO LISTENING EARS. I think that started in the 1s room? And definitely continues today.

    I agree with Grumblie. Our rule at our house is bedroom doors are shut at 7:30 and that is it (unless it is an emergency). We give them ample time for complaints/food/water before 7:30. We had an unfortunate string in the 3s when the doorknobs were reversed and they got locked in if they came out 3 times.

    I’ve also found that when things feel the most frustrating is when we need to whip things back into shape. We use the 1 2 3 Magic method of time outs and it is magic, when we are consistent about it. If we ask them to do something and they don’t do it or argue or back talk, they get counted. The counting haunts my dreams but it is a great way to help them understand boundaries and appropriate behavior.

    • You have me incredibly intrigued with this 1 2 3 Magic.
      Please to be teaching me.

      I want to nip this in the bud because– well, two others are watching what we do with the one. And seeing what that one is getting away with. And they will try much worse, I’m sure of it.

  3. I’m no parent but from what I’ve seen on supernanny she really knows her stuff. You should look on her website and/or see if her books in the library. She has tips on bedtime techniques for this sorta thing. :)

  4. We have the same thing going on here. It’s mostly Parker though, Griffin goes down without much fuss (knocks wood profusely). I start to get a knot in my stomach come bedtime because I know the night is going to end with someone yelling quicker than they intend to (pregnancy hormones) and someone(s) crying by the time it’s all said and done.
    I have no tips because I can’t figure out what to change here to make it different, but know that you aren’t alone!!!
    I just keep hoping this possible “stage” is over with before I have 4 :P

    • Yes, I completely know what you’re talking about with the knot in your stomach. Ryan, bless his heart, takes the bedtime duties 90% of the time. It’s his personal mission to get them into their own beds without fuss. I find it so frustrating that it ruins my mood for the night…that’s terrible to admit out loud:(

      Four will be reality before you know it, eh?! Whoa. Amazing!!

  5. Oh, the talking back! The SASS! The eye rolls! We’ve got it all up in the P house. We have a somewhat successful reaction to it. I say somewhat because it’s still in progress. When the girls were smaller, we had a “Behavior Chart” on our fridge. If we caught them being good they got a mark on their board. They had to earn 14 marks to get their ‘allowance’ – a whole 6 bucks! If they were bad, then marks could be taken away. If they were really bad, then their entire board could be swept away.

    Last week the girls asked for a behavior chart. What?! We couldn’t believe it. They said they wanted it again. Ooookay then. So we put a new one up. This time, they have to earn 15 marks to get a toy, a really awesome toy that sits upon the fridge just staring at them until they earn it. They’ve done great so far with the chart. We can just threaten, just hint, at taking away a mark, and they straighten up immediately. They’ve both earned marks and had marks taken away. They have yet to earn their toy, but they are close.

    I’m hoping this isn’t just a novelty and that it works for the long haul. Once this doesn’t work then we’re unsure what to do. When is it OK to administer a grounding? We’ve thought about that too, but if the girls were “grounded” to their rooms that isn’t much of a punishment because they’re rooms are filled with toys!!

  6. Oooooooh, the SASS! It’s like they learn it in the womb or something. Wren had the freaking GALL to answer a perfectly innocent, “What are you doing?” from her grandfather with, “What does it LOOK like I’m doing?” FOUR. SHE IS FOUR. It earned an immediate removal from what she actually WAS doing. It’s so hard to dole out consequences because whatever you take away from THEM, what THEY are going to take away from YOU is going to be worse. (peace and quiet, your child-free evening, time to yourself, etc)

    Bedtime has never been an issue for us. I think we lucked out with a kid who is VERY happy to play/read/be on her own for long periods of time. Hell, I don’t care if she’s ASLEEP at 7.30, but she sure as heck is staying in her room after that time. (We also think she might be just a teensy bit AFRAID of getting out of bed in the dark.)

    I hope that some of the other ladies that have commented have offered solutions more effective than my observations….

Talk to Meeeeeeeeee

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