When Their Brains Turn Off


onoff2It happens more than I’d like to admit.

First my boys will do something truly stupid or completely against how we raised them (like licking the table, shooting each other with rubber bands, etc…).

Next, I will look at them and say, “I think your brain turned off for a minute – let’s think about this for a minute.”

I only use this line because if I didn’t I would say something like, “Quit that!”, “What were you thinking!?” or “Stop it now!”

{side note: asking a boy WHY he did something is like asking a dog why it peed on the rug – they don’ t know, they really don’t}

Tonight was one of those nights.

Matt took the older two boys to football and I dragged our youngest through his older brother’s Open House. It’s our first year with a middle-schooler and I was anxious to hear from all his teachers and make sure I was in the know.

I stopped by the counselor’s office and as we were talking I noticed the counselor’s eyes kept drifting past mine to look behind me. When I finally turned around I saw my 2nd grader jumping up and down on the chair sitting in her office.

I was mortified.

We don’t jump on furniture! I don’t even let them jump on their beds! What. Was. Happening!?!?!

I apologized, he got down and we went to the next class.

I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was embarrassed and amazed all at the same time. Where did he get the idea that jumping on the furniture of a workplace was okay?

As the science teacher walked us through his power point I started to think about why I was so bothered.

Then I figured it out…His brain turned off and even though I had stopped the behavior I wasn’t certain it wouldn’t happen again.

As we left science he asked what room we now needed (his job was to locate room numbers throughout the night).

I pulled him aside and said we were going to skip the next class. Here’s our conversation:

M: Buddy, do you remember a little while ago when you were jumping on the chair in that lady’s office?

J: Yeah (as he picks his nose and tries to wipe it on the wall behind him)

M: Do you think that was a good or bad choice?

J: (lengthy pause) Bad.

M: I’m wondering if your brain just kind of turned off for a little bit.

J: Yeah, maybe.

M: Do we jump on furniture? Especially other people’s furniture!?

J: No.

M: So, how are we gonna remind your brain not to that again?

J: I don’t know.

M: We’re gonna need to go back into her office and apologize for jumping on her furniture.

{his face reflects the sentiment, “things just got real”}

J: I really don’t want to do that.

M: I know, but when we make choices that go against what we KNOW is right, we have to apologize – it’s not easy.

J: I REALLY don’t want to do that. {tears are beginning to form}

M: Well, we’re going to do it and I’ll be with you. Let’s not make a big deal about it. Just walk in and say, “I’m sorry for jumping on your furniture” and I know she’ll say it’s okay.

As we walk to the office his fists are clenched and he’s moving from sadness to pure anger.

M: Hi Mrs. Smith, it’s just again. James had a quick thing he wanted to say to you.

J: I’m sorry I jumped on your furniture.

She was very forgiving and it was over in 30 seconds. But as we left her office the tears truly began to flow. At the end of the night I told him I was SO PROUD of him. He owned his choice and he made it right.

I asked him if he thought he’d ever jump on furniture again.

His response?

“No way mom! My brain isn’t gonna turn off about this again!”

I am fairly certain I’ll have to pull him off another piece of furniture very soon – but I’m hoping the act of apologizing will influence his desire to keep his brain turned ON, not OFF.

What are some of your kids’ “off” moments?

How do you help their brains turn back on?

Leave a comment – we want to hear from you!

Kasey

4 Responses to “When Their Brains Turn Off”


  1. 1 Katie Croy August 23, 2014 at 9:26 AM

    Great advice For all those real situations in life. Thanks for making us laugh, cry, and grow,! We are all better mothers because of you.

  2. 2 jlmsgm August 22, 2014 at 7:39 AM

    Kasey, this was so good! I have a 10 year old and I find myself asking that age-old question, “What were you thinking!?!?!?” I love how you changed that up. And the story was a great example on how to use it. This is something I am going to incorporate into our family. 🙂 As a side note – this is my sweet boy’s last year of elementary school. Do you have any advice for how to deal with the change to middle school? I want to be as prepared as I can.

  3. 3 Sandy August 22, 2014 at 7:23 AM

    Connie pulls me off stuff or says, “what were you thinking” all of the time. I don’t think this is just a small child thing. I think we all have that off switch moment, some of us more than others. I catch myself in this mode more than I care to admit. The opponsent is when we have that light bulb moment when we make a discovery. Often called an a ha moment.
    Amazing thing the brain.


  1. 1 Mommy Brain | smarter moms Trackback on October 6, 2014 at 12:05 AM

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