Quote of the Day


The Stall Question

Do your kids drive you crazy with The Stall Question? Of course not, for you are a paragon of patience and loving-kindness. Me? Not so much. They drive me nuts with the lame-o unnecessary already-know-the-answer-and-we-all-know-that-you-know-the-answer questions that they ask to put off the inevitable for one more second, or that they ask for the sheer joy of watching Mom's head explode. I suspect the latter.

Obviously, if I could remain calm, cool, and collected, the Crisis of the Stall Question would dissipate on its own. Until I can arrange for a personality transplant, however, my new strategy will have to do. Lines. For every ridiculous question, the child can scribe the answer.

Mom: Please tidy up the playroom.
Child: Do I have to?
Mom: Please bring me paper and pencil.
(Mom writes "When Mom tells me to do something, I have to do it." on the top of the paper and numbers the lines 1 though 5.)
Mom: Please copy this out five times.
Child: Do I have to?
(Mom adds some numbers to the paper.)
(Child whines and stamps feet.)
(Mom adds some more numbers to the paper.)
(Child resigns self to the task, does the copywork; reads each and every line out loud to Mama; we check it for capital letters and end punctuation; we make tidy corrections as needed.)

Mom: Please tidy the playroom.
Child: Yes Mama.

We'll see how that works. It has to be better than our current pattern.

Mom: Please tidy up the playroom.
Child: Do I have to?
Mom (crossly): Yes, of course you have to. When I ask blah blah blah blahbity blah blah blah blah blah blahbity blah blah blah blah blah blahbity blah blah blah blah blah blahbity blah blah. Now go tidy up the playroom.
Child: Do I have to?
Mom (more crossly): No, you don't have to. You may go sit in the little chair until you are ready to tidy the playroom.

Now this did work, but I was always at risk of being pushed into crabby-land and a great deal of time was wasted on the little chair which has no redeeming benefits, other than ending the conversation and removing the child from view for awhile, and there was great potential for stewing to occur in the chair.

But scribing has some great benefits. It puts the positive message in front of the child's eyes, through the brain, and out through the fingers and the mouth multiple times. It models sentence patterns. It provides fine-motor skills practice. It is, by its repetitive solitary nature, a calming task which yields something they could (theoretically at least) take some pride in at the end.


Rachael said...

This is brilliant! I will have to try this.

karamjit said...

We should obey our parents as they tell us something which is for our own benefit. Great post and i am sure many people will like it.

kate said...

When I subbed the I handed out, "I realize that by (whatever-talking in class) I am being disruptive and disrespectful both to my classmates and to my teacher so I will cease this behavior immediately."

They'd laugh it off when I told them they'd have to write ten sentences before they could play. Then, once they saw a sentence... And they did give me props for the cool sentence.

Anonymous said...

excellent! turning abstract words into a concrete entity.

the same thing needs to happen in schools.

repetition IS necessary.