If someone were to make a playlist entitled “Raising Kids,” the most-played song would be “Mom, mom, mooooom, MOM!” Whether they want to show off a new dance move, need help with a science project, or want a younger sibling out of their way, kids are constantly trying to get their parents’ attention. And while it can test our patience (understandably), there’s also a reason why they do it. In a recent Instagram post, parent coach and behavior analyst Mandy Grass explains the behavior and shares tips for how to get kids to stop saying “Mom!” 1,000 times a day.

Related: A Simple Way to Fix Bad Behavior That’s Not Telling Kids to Say ‘Sorry’ (Again)


First, Gross says that if you’re going to respond to your kid, respond the first time. Why is this important? “Sometimes we respond on the first time, sometimes it’s the 20th mom, sometimes it’s the fifth, or we finally break on the ninth. We are teaching our child to say ‘Mom’ that many times. Be really careful about intermittently reinforcing that,” she says.

Second, Gross says parents need to supply a replacement behavior: “Anytime we ignore a behavior we think is attention maintained, we want to outline a way to get our attention appropriately. Things like saying ‘mom’ and waiting 10 seconds. Saying ‘Mom do you have a minute?’ Saying, ‘Excuse me, Mom, did you hear me?'” Something better than an endless stream of the same word until they are blue in the face.

As parents, we need to create opportunities to practice with our children, and as Gross stresses, to be consistent. For example, “When a kid says, ‘Mom, mom, mom, mom,’ you say, ‘Excuse me, Max, can you say, Mom, do you have a minute?’ and then you practice that,” she explains.

While this habit can be hard to break, it’s not impossible. Offer a different way for your kids to get your attention the next time and see what happens. You might be surprised. And, as Gross reminds us, be mindful not to burst out with a WHAT?! on the 20th time you hear the word because the next time, they might try 30.

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