Don’t Think of Pink Elephants, and the Annoying Repetitive Behaviors of Children

Don’t think of pink elephants. Stop thinking of pink elephants. STOP THINKING OF PINK ELEPHANTS! If you keep thinking of pink elephants you are going to have to sit on the bottom stair for one minute. TWO MINUTES! FIVE MINUTES! STOP THINKING ABOUT PINK ELEPHANTS RIGHT THIS MINUTE!

There are some behaviors that my children start up on the minute that certain adults come home.

The behaviors that have to STOP RIGHT NOW. The behaviors that have consequences. The behaviors that pop up randomly across our days together but in small and manageable amounts that quickly pass.

When someone is fixated on something you don’t get them to stop by talking about it.

Remember the pink elephants? I’m guessing it became a bit easier to put them out of your mind after I stopped talking about them as much. Because you started thinking about what I was talking about instead. Your mind moved on.

I call these behaviors “Pink elephant behaviors”. They aren’t going to stop no matter how much you DEMAND THAT THEY STOP.

Change the topic if you don’t like it. Teach them something else to do if they’re bored. Remove them from the room where they’re doing the thing. Let them know that they can do it in a specific place, then insist that they go to that place, instead.

But stop talking about the pink elephant in the room.

  2 comments for “Don’t Think of Pink Elephants, and the Annoying Repetitive Behaviors of Children

  1. Simone
    July 1, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    it’s like you’re reading my mind… we’re visiting the in-laws for a few (far too long) weeks and some negative attention seeking behaviours have popped up out of nowhere… I need to keep reading your post and stay calm and make sure my son and I remember our core space of being grounded. I know that makes me sound like I’m doing everything right and the family is all wrong, which is a bit of a vent, but the truth is that there’s too much going on. In ways, too much and not enough attention being given to the 2.75 year old boy. He needs “normal” time and to avoid power struggles with us all. I’ll think of the elephants next time and hopefully know how to nip things in the bud. Thanks dude. :0)

  2. Jennifer G
    July 19, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    “There are some behaviors that my children start up on the minute that certain adults come home.” I notice this too…but I wonder, at least in my home, do they start up or do I just not notice them (the behaviors) until there is someone else there that *I* know is noticing them? Some of my kids’ behaviors that normally do not bother me (boys being loud with each other all day long for instance) make me insanely crazy the minute my husband steps in the door after work.

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