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MomTalk: Your Kids' Most Annoying Habits, and How You Deal With Them

What do your kids do that make you understand why some animals eat their young?

Regina Martine
All of my kids have the power to drive me completely out of my mind, but right now, only one of them does it on a regular basis. They say seven is the “Age of Reason” — where kids learn how to compromise, how to respect others’ feelings, and how to understand how their behavior affects other people. My daughters became much easier, more reasonable, and more cooperative right around when they turned seven. My son will be seven on Saturday. Hopefully the end is near.

This is not that they don’t all have their moments of irritating behavior, but I can say something like “you need to clean up the playroom because your grandparents are coming this weekend and will be sleeping in there.” And the girls do it. Pretty much without arguing. My son, on the other hand, will pick up one toy at a time, very. very. slowly. Whining and crying all the while about how he doesn’t want to clean the playroom. Well, hey – the girls don’t want to either, but they know that the sooner they do it the sooner they can get back to doing what they DO want to do. This whiney, delaying, complaining as a ploy to get out of doing chores they don’t want to do has gotten really, really old after seeing three kids do it for years.

Most of my aggravation with my kids, and especially my son, comes from feeling like I have been dealing with the same pesky, yet age appropriate annoying behaviors for years. Now that the third kid is doing these irritating things, I have completely run out of patience. I feel like I have been dealing with some of these things for so long that they must have outgrown this by now. Well, not all of them have.

One of these pesky behaviors is asking me to get them something they can easily get for themselves. Usually they like to ask me when I am in the shower or using the bathroom. Usually they do it when their father is IN THE SAME ROOM AS THEM. Ugh.

I don’t really know why they insist on asking me since most of the time it seems they can’t hear my voice at all. They all ask the same questions over and over, even after they get an answer. Even after they get the answer three or four times. Even if the answer is yes. Even after one kid asks and gets an answer in front of the other two, it doesn’t seem to stop the other two from asking, even though they were standing right there when the question was asked and answered.

They also have a delightful habit of singing everything I say, without actually doing what I say. If I say “get into your PJs and brush your teeth” I will get a opera or Johnny Cash inspired rendition of “brush your teeeeeeeeeeeeth, teeny tiny teeeeeeeeth,” but no actual pajamaing or brushing of teeth There is a lot of singing in my house. Usually when someone else is trying to talk. And it gets on my nerves. I think I feel a song coming on. I know a song that gets on everybody’s nerves, everybody’s nerves, everybody’s nerves… * Sigh * Saturday can’t come soon enough.

Jillian Sallee
I’m sitting on the couch with Ryan during family reading time at night.  Lily is late coming down from her tubby and we have started already.  She comes down shortly and settles on the couch with her book.  Almost immediately, Ryan’s feet come out and inch towards her leg, Lily squirms closer to me, shooting him a dirty look.  Of course, I am so involved in my book that the next thing I know, Lily has just kicked Ryan because his foot was bothering her and he kicked her back because she kicked him first.  What just happened?!  

When left to their own devices or interacting with my husband and I one on one, my two oldest kids are awesome.  Ryan is serious and creative and amazing with Legos.  The conversations we have are smart and the questions he has really intrigue me.  I love watching him come down the stairs in full green clothes from head to toe and guessing that he is a leprechaun for the day.  The scenes he invents himself from Legos are truly astonishing and the details are something to remember.  Lily is chatty and artsy and she loves to dance.  She definitely processes things by speaking about them and the constant stream of chatter confirms that.  Lily loves to be the center of the group and she has a real skill for directing creative play.  Lily can also be a little kooky and makes up songs about nothing on the spot, a trait she inherited from her musical dad.  She makes beautiful pictures for our walls and I am constantly having to shuffle things around to accommodate them.  Put these two creative and inspiring little people in the same space for more than thirty seconds and fireworks erupt!  

Lily starts whining and hits Ryan, Ryan runs to me to tell on her while saying something mean and derogatory to her.  It is truly one of the only things about my kids that I can’t stand.  I have no patience for meanness and it makes my blood boil that they can’t be nice to each other.  This is especially frustrating to me because both Ryan and Lily are adoring to Juliet!

The eighteen month old, the one who is into EVERYTHING, who demands their markers and who puts their legos in her mouth just to annoy them, they dote on.  Juliet can do no wrong in their eyes.  I observed from afar this week, Juliet yell (in her adorable squeaky voice) “Sister” and point at the doll Lily was playing with.  Lily gave it to her and then Juliet said “Sister” again and pointed to the play chair Lily was sitting in and Lily got up and let her sit down!  Are you kidding me?!  Lily would have knocked Ryan out before she gave up her precious seat.  When Ryan plays the Wii, he gets out the extra controller and gives it to Juliet so she can pretend to play with him.  If Lily deigns to step in the room where he is playing, he starts his running commentary about how he is the best at Wii, how it’s his turn for screen time, making Lily feel terrible.  While I am so incredibly thankful they are so nice to the baby, it hurts my heart so much that they fight with each other.

Our family used to have a points system for niceness.  If one child was nice to another, they got a point for the brother and sister team.  If they reached 10 points in a day, they could get a reward; an extra story, a tubby in Nonnie and Papa’s tub, or a sleepover in each other’s rooms (if it was on the weekend) something simple.  And it seemed to work for a while.  The kids were reaching the 10 points every day and they were doing just little things to be nice, like getting vitamins for one another or saying something nice about a drawing.  Unfortunately, we got lazy after a few months and we felt bad for basically bribing the kids to be nice to each other.  But they got in the habit of doing nice things and even when we got lazy, it kept up for a while, with no reward in sight.  Apparently, it is time to bring back the points.  I just want them to like each other because I like them both so much and I would love for our time together to be better.  Does anyone else have sibling trouble?  How are you helping the kids to get along better?  Any suggestions would be helpful!

Laurie Hunt
First of all, I must start by saying I love my children and the good far outweighs the bad. Having said that composing this article could not have come at a worse (or better?) time – it has been one of those weeks.  Consider this article a little bit of birth control…

My pet peeves start with the fighting and bickering my kids do with each other over the little things.  Tonight it was one child flipping out that the other child had taken a couple of French fries that were about to be tossed out anyway.  Why could her sister not have them?  Because “they are mine”.  (Really?!) Oh, and the famous who is going to sit where… “I called it!”, “I was going to call it!” “I was right there!” and, my personal favorite, “I said the last time that next time it was my turn…”  Are you kidding me?!

The other thing that makes me crazy is their sixth sense to know when I am not in a great mood and choose that time to ask the most ridiculous questions.  You know when they pick that kind of a morning to ask – not once, but at least three or four times, why they cannot have candy for breakfast or have a sleepover on a school night. 

We also can’t forget the classic kid move – all is fine, everyone has everything they could possibly need until Mom decides to take a shower/use the bathroom/talk on the phone.  All of a sudden everything and anything is a crisis and needs an answer right away.  My kids are better about this since I instituted the rule that, unless they are bleeding, I get to use the bathroom in peace.  Same thing for phone calls.  If they insist on asking a question during this time and they are not bleeding the answer is an “automatic no”.  Those of you without children who think I am a heartless ogre… just you wait. ((wink)) You will be adopting my system and thanking me for it one day.  Trust me.

I will leave you with some words of wisdom from two people who know children – Dr. Suess and Bill Cosby.

“One thing I can’t stand is the noise, noise, noise, noise!” -Grinch

“The truth is that parents are not really interested in justice. They just want quiet.” - Bill Cosby 

Tasha Schlake Festel
What bugs me about my kids? I wracked my brain, and after several moments of reflection, I had to stop myself before I entered a downward spiral of depression. Where the heck would I stop? In the interest of word count, I decided to limit myself to just the big ones for each child.

My son is a pretty typical Kindergarten boy. I won’t even mention all of those things that automatically come with 6-year-old boys like the boundless energy, the constant noise, and the need to “cross streams” with his friends on playdates. They don’t even register on my radar. In fact, I find those qualities endearing! It’s the above-and-beyond stuff that drives me nuts. My daughter is an 8-year-old teenager and probably a little more high-maintenance than the typical child. I adore her for her idiosyncrasies and the challenges she presents to me but sometimes wonder what life might be like if it were a little less, let’s say, interesting.

My son aspires to be a professional Beatboxer, like Shock from The Electric Company on PBS. This drives me freakin’ nuts! If it happened occasionally or if he were, you know, good at it, it might be cool. But neither of those things is true. I hate this so much that I am seriously considering voting Republican across the board just to put an end to funding of public television.

Another thing that makes me want to scream is the constant play-by-play commentary that accompanies my son’s life, as if I were listening to Al Michaels over my own personal PA system. It’s not enough for him to do an activity, or have me see the activity he’s just done. He must also – literally – re-do the activity in slow-motion as he provides both the play-by-play and color commentary to go along with the replay. He sometimes even adds in the piped applause and crowd noises. I am expected to be at least as interested/impressed/amused as I was when it first happened, if not more so. This gets old.

My daughter’s never-ending quest for food also gets pretty old. She seems to have an insatiable appetite, a nearly constant need to eat, and I’m not talking about the need for dinner every night, although I won’t lie, I resent that as well. Aside from the three square meals and two healthy snacks per day I provide my children, she wants more. And it’s never enough. She’s always starving! It’s like the kid has a Tongue Eating Louse and the food never makes it to her body. Except that at age eight, she’s the height of a twelve year old so clearly nutrition is making it in to her system. You always hear about teenage boys eating their parents out of house and home. Well, they ain’t got nothin’ on my second grade girl.

Healthy appetites aren’t the only thing we have going for us in our house. My son has the healthiest ego of anyone I know. I’ve always said that no one likes my boy as much as my boy likes my boy. He is his own biggest fan. And why wouldn’t he be since he is nearly perfect? Just ask him! He’ll tell you that he’s the best at just about everything. While I admire his confidence and would much rather have to break him than build him up, the constant boasting does get a little exhausting. Once he brought me a picture and said, “Look, Mom! I colored this whole thing in and it’s perfect!” While a better mother would have marveled at his work, I said, “Um, that’s not true buddy. You went out of the lines here, and here, and here. It’s really good, but it’s not perfect. Nice job, though.” I am mean.

I am also, apparently, mean to my daughter when I ask her to brush her hair, clean the food off of her face, put on matching and/or clean clothes or otherwise take pride in her appearance. Even if a glance in the mirror before leaving the house is asking too much of an 8-year-old, is it outrageous to expect her to act on feedback? If someone says, “You have food all over your face and your hair is like a rat’s nest,” wouldn’t you at least take a moment to address the specific things brought to your attention? Apparently not if you’re my daughter. It drives me up a freakin’ tree.

Now that you’ve spent the last several minutes of your life reading about how my children bug the snot out of me, I feel compelled to say that I love my kids more than life itself. They wouldn’t be them if they didn’t do these things, and I wouldn’t change any of it. OK, well, not most of it anyway.

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